Lee Trevino wins THE PLAYERS Championship 1980

THE PLAYERS 1980: Lee Trevino

You can forgive the fans who attended the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship 1980 if they did a double-take. Had a tournament morphed into a Hall of Fame parade?

Actually, yes, because PGA TOUR fans were blessed by the show that broke out at Sawgrass Country Club. When Lee Trevino arrived with a slim lead to start the final round, all he could see close behind were luminaries — Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw and Hubert Green, Hall of Famers, each and every one.

If Trevino, then 40, singled out Nicklaus above all, it was for good reason. Nicklaus had started the season with three pedestrian tournaments and folks appeared to be dismissing the icon. Bad move, Trevino insisted, because it wasn’t wise to poke a Golden Bear.

“Let him sleep,” Trevino said.

Of course, the roars for such an assembled lineup of stars might have stirred Nicklaus, too, and oh, how fans had a final pairing for the final round that was one for the ages — Trevino, Nicklaus, Player. It was the first time all three had been paired, and Trevino understandably took pride in how it played out.

Coming home in 2-under 70 for a 10-under 278 total, Trevino outshined Nicklaus and Player, both of whom shot 73. Holding off hard-charging Crenshaw (66) by one and Ballesteros and Watson by two, Trevino earned his 25th career win over an All-Star cast that put a string of exclamation points next to the phrase “strongest field in golf.”

“Let him sleep.” - Lee Trevino