"I'm like a '67 Cadillac. I've changed the engine twice, rolled back the odometer and replaced the transmission. But now all the tires are goin' flat. It's time to put it in the junkyard." --Lee Trevino
When people will just stop laughing long enough to hear what he's saying, Lee Trevino will tell them the truth.
This morning, as thunderstorms postponed the first round of the Tournament Players Championship here, Trevino explained the twists his life has taken in recent months.
As a golfer and a husband, Trevino said, it is sad but true that he's washed up. Both his career and his marriage of more than 20 years are at an end; in the same spring that Trevino finally has realized that more attempts at a serious comeback are a waste of time, his wife has asked for a divorce.
At this moment of double personal crisis, Trevino, 43, is just beginning an invigorating but worrisome career as a TV announcer.
"I'm a survivor," said the troubled but cheerful man whose view of the world always has been as cryptically cynical as it was defiantly merry. "I've had a lot of things happen to me in my life, but I'm not the type to quit. I've been lucky and I'll never get bitter . . .
"Life and work, they say you can't have 'em both. It looks that way."
Just how honest is Trevino? He'll tell you his career as a PGA Tour contender is finished and that he never expects to win another tournament. He'll also tell you this turn of events doesn't bother him much. He's been expecting it ever since he was hit by lightning seven years ago.
"I've had two back operations and my game is not what it used to be. You can't beat Father Time and I've got nothing to cry about. I've reached the point where the body just won't do what the brain asks it to. If I never make another putt, I'll always be way ahead. I've won more than I ever thought I'd win. From now on, I'm just goin' out and have a little fun with it."
Today's rainout might have worried the old Trevino, since it will necessitate a 36-hole, double round Sunday--something Trevino hasn't done since he met that lightning. "I don't know if I can play 36 in a day," he said, "but, the way I'm playin', I probably won't have to find out."
Trevino will tell you his professional hopes now lie in his current adventures as a rookie golf commentator with NBC-TV.
"I've lit up that (network) switchboard a couple of times already. You gotta call it like it is. If I can be successful on TV, I can be as valuable to my sponsors as I ever was. And I enjoy it. I get goose bumps when they're comin' up the 18th fairway, 'cause I know what they're going through."
Trevino will even tell you that his decision to sign a two-year TV deal, and thus continue his itinerant, tour-hopping way of life, precipitated his divorce.
"It was a complete surprise to me, but, on the other hand, it didn't surprise me at all. That'll happen when you haven't been home in 18 years. I've been selfish. I always put golf No. 1, which means I've put me No. 1," said Trevino, whose just-published autobiography, "Super Mex," is dedicated to his wife Claudia.
"The job with NBC was the straw that broke the camel's back. My wife asked me, 'Are you going to take that TV job?' I said, 'Yes.' A week later she told me, 'I've had enough.' We're still friends. We have the same lawyer. There's no fighting.
"To tell the truth, I can't say that there was any way out. If I'd quit the tour and not done any TV, we'd have been divorced in six months anyway because I'd have gone crazy sitting at home. I'm not going to change. Though it's sad."