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IT'S NIFTY BEING 50
Kenny Moore
December 18, 1989
Lee Trevino, joining the rich Senior tour, says the best is yet to come
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December 18, 1989

It's Nifty Being 50

Lee Trevino, joining the rich Senior tour, says the best is yet to come

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That we'll have to see. Because what Trevino engages in on a golf course may be considerably more satisfying than, say, snorkeling.

Watch him chop out shot after shot with that abrupt, flat swing, pondering not at all, then pass through a range of moods, by turns puckish, distant and occasionally crude. At Kaanapali he lacerated an addled autograph seeker by inquiring, aloud, whether senior golf meant senile galleries.

Trevino says that he has always fit with the game of golf, has always slipped easily into its rhythm of focus, execute, breathe and refocus. He found it there, waiting for him, the perfect Trevino expression. So he spends himself on its many levels, mental and biomechanical, and afterward he is amiably immobile on the couch in the room overlooking the Pacific. Immobile to the extent that he uses his stretching pole to answer the phone.

In the Kaanapali tournament, the skills of the Seniors were in ample evidence. Sixty-three-year-old Joe Jimenez shot 64 for the first-round lead. The second day, laconic Don Bies, the defending champion, fired his own 64 and credited it to the excitement stirred in him by playing with Trevino. Bies's 132 led Dale Douglass by a stroke. (Douglass's and Bies's bellies are notably flat.) Trevino's 138 gave him a chance going into the last day of the three-day tournament, but it was a slim one.

Then the night before the final round, an unadvertised rainstorm swept in, flooding the course and sending billows of russet Hawaiian mud into the heretofore blue Pacific. The tournament was called off with two rounds played, and Bies backed into the $45,000 winner's share of the $300,000 purse. Trevino made $9,258 for tying for seventh.

Rather than broadcast the deluge, on Saturday ESPN ran tape of the beautiful first day. Let's do that too and return to Trevino as he approached the 18th green on that first Thursday of his new life. A water hazard bordered the fairway to the right. Trevino was drawn to it. Head cocked, gently absorbed, he ambled along, reaching down with a club and drawing up lost golf balls.

"I love to look for golf balls," he said. "If I had a retriever, I could have got more." While waiting to putt, he slipped a few to people who seemed to be keeping a polite distance, or perhaps people he sensed were of good heart. What was once a living was now a joy, a walk in the springy pasture of heaven.

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