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Lee has endured two divorces, several failed business ventures, a lightning strike and a couple of back operations. "My first two wives dumped me," Trevino says. "They thought all I wanted to do was scream and play golf." He doesn't dispute the point.
For all his tribulations Lee insists his only real disappointment is not having spent enough time with his children. He has six, ranging from 39-year-old Rick to nine-year-old Daniel, who goes by his middle name, Lee. Only little Lee and his sister, Olivia—children of their father's current 18-year marriage to the former Claudia Bove—see much of him. Tony gets together with his father once in a blue moon.
"I totally neglected my four oldest kids," Lee says as coolly as if he were reading scores off a leader board. "I gave them the roof over their heads, but I didn't give them the love."
He gave golf his most precious possession: his time. "I put the game before everything," says Lee. "I didn't realize what a stranger I had become to my family until it was too late." He estimates that he spent 300 days per year on the road for two decades. "It was extremely selfish of me. I thought kids grew up, went to school, graduated and kissed you every now and then, but when your kid's childhood is gone, it's gone. You're not ever going to get it back."
Lee never knew his own father. Raised by his maternal grandpop in a dirt-floor shack near a Dallas muni, he quit school before the eighth grade to work for the greens superintendent at a country club. "I never dwelled on not having a dad around," he says. "I was too busy trying to survive."
It's different for the upper-middle-class progeny of PGA Tour players. "Kids of pros from Lee's era share a bond of confusion and anger," says 28-year-old Eric Weiskopf, who alongside his father, Tom, finished third last week. "I used to wonder, Where's Dad? Why isn't he home? Doesn't he like me? All I wanted was to be with him, yet I hardly ever was. It ate me up."
Lee passed up Tony's birth to play in the Masters in 1969, the year after he stunned the world by winning the U.S. Open, his first of 27 Tour victories. "I was in Augusta, shooting about an 80," Lee says. "How's that for selfish?" Yet Tony says he actually preferred not having the not-so- Merry Mex around. "If he was home, it usually meant he hadn't play well that week and wouldn't be in a good mood," Tony says. "Instead of missing him, it was more like, 'When is he going to be gone? Get the guy out of here.' "
Despite a lack of paternal encouragement, Tony became one of the more promising junior players in El Paso—a shy, modest kid in public who wasn't afraid to get lippy with the greatest mouth in the game in private. As Tony recalls, after Lee chided him for finishing second in a tournament when he was eight years old, he snapped, "Didn't you miss the cut this week, Dad?"
Lee and Tony's mother, the former Claudia Fenley, divorced when Tony was 13, the age at which he lost interest in becoming a pro golfer. He was tired of being compared with his father. "Everyone was scared to death of me until I teed off," he says. "Then it was, 'I can beat Lee Trevino's son.' "
One day Tony came home from a tournament without his clubs. "He had left them next to one of the greens," Lee says. "I had to go back and fetch them." Had Tony come to resent his absent dad? "I think so," says Lee, "and I don't blame him."