“BEATING NICKLAUS IN ANY GOLF TOURNAMENT is very high on my list. Beating Jack in a major is extremely high.”
So begins Lee Trevino in this USGA video about his 18-hole playoff win over Jack Nicklaus at Merion Golf Club. The 1971 U.S. Open was Trevino’s second major title and second U.S. Open victory. He won his first in 1968 at Oak Hill. The win at Merion against the game’s best player, Trevino said, was validation.
The year 1971 was Trevino’s best year in golf. In the space of three weeks, “Super Mex,” as he called himself, won three national titles. After the U.S. Open, Trevino beat Art Wall Jr. in a playoff to claim the Canadian Open. A week later he won the British Open at Royal Birkdale. (He successfully defended his title at Muirfield in 1972.)
Trevino won six times in 1971 and was named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated and “Athlete of the Year” by ABC’s Wide World of Sports.