The case certainly can be made that this was a lucky win for Trevino, unlike last year at Royal Birkdale when he destroyed the course with brilliant shot-making. After all, he holed out four times—four—from off the greens during the course of 72 holes for his 278. And that is simply indecent.
On the second day he chipped in for a birdie 3 at the 2nd hole from 40 feet with an eight-iron. Then he holed his two ridiculous shots in the third round when he ran off from everyone but Jacklin. The first was from a terrible lie up against a bank in a bunker at the 16th. He had just dropped consecutive birdie putts of more than 20 feet at the 14th and 15th. Now he slammed his wedge into the sand. Out spurted the ball in a semi-line drive to take one harsh bounce and dive into the cup for a birdie 2. At the 18th, after two-putting for a normal birdie on the 17th, he chipped out of the weeds for a fifth straight birdie and a 66. "I think things like that happen to a man sometimes when he's trying," Lee said. "I was trying. I was aiming at the cup. I didn't come to Scotland to help Nicklaus win any Grand Slam. If I played golf with my wife, I'd try to beat the daylights out of her."
For all of this, it was one last chip shot that found its way into the hole that rescued Trevino from what looked, at the very end, like a certain victory for Tony Jacklin. Tony had won in 1969, and Tony could win again. Princess Margaret was there; wasn't this an omen?
Trevino had played the par-5 17th like a man choking on the trophy or a sausage roll or perhaps royalty. He drove into a bunker, poked it out, poked it again and then ran a short pitch over the green. Jacklin, meanwhile, was just off the green in two. He chipped on, leaving himself a good birdie chance. He was about to go to 18 with a certain one-stroke lead. Perhaps two. Possibly three.
"I think I might have given up. I felt like I had," Trevino said. "My heart wasn't really in my chip shot." Something was. It went in for a saving five. Jacklin, having watched all these crazy shots of Lee's go in for two rounds, now did what was human. He three-putted from 15 feet. And that was that. Trevino got a routine par on 18 for his second British Open to go along with the two U.S. Opens he has won in his five years as a touring pro.
"I feel sorry for Tony, who played really well. And I feel sorry for Jack. But Jack shouldn't have treated me like a butler when I had dinner with him the other night," said Trevino, still joking, still refreshingly Trevino.
In retrospect, one really has to wonder about Nicklaus' strategy, and Jack himself might well look back and question it. Maybe not, however. He is pretty stubborn about such things. He had a game plan for Muirfield and he stuck to it—at least until Saturday.
He arrived early to begin preparations for both the course and the smaller ball. There was nothing wrong with this—or else it could be said that he should not have arrived a week early at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. The argument that Jack was overprepared can be discarded. The final round proved as much.
There was tremendous pressure on him. The betting odds were an outlandish 2 to 1 before the championship even got under way and all of the Scottish newspapers were advertising the event as some sort of Nicklaus Extravaganza. The Scotsman ( Edinburgh), for example, labeled its daily coverage, "The Grand Slam Open," with a portrait of Jack.
Muirfield has been called Scotland's best golf course by many authorities. This does not mean it is the toughest; that is probably Carnoustie in the wind. It means that Muirfield is the most elegant, the classiest, the most subtle, the best conditioned. It is not a long course; it has often been compared to our own Merion, given the right winds. There were one or two par 4s that Nicklaus could reach with a driver if he chose to try—and if he succeeded in hitting it straight enough. There were several others where he could reduce his second shot to a wedge if he hit with a big club off the tee. And there were par 5s he could surely reach in two blows.