MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Lee Trevino was questioning just about everything in his golf game this season.
"I was so desperate," he said. "I was ready to take some clubs out of Bob Charles' bag and hit them left-handed."
His own clubs served him just fine Thursday. He shot a 69 in the first round of the Senior Tour Championship. And just maybe, he says, his season-long slump might be in retreat.
"It's a start, it's a start," he said. "And I'll tell you something, it really gives me something to work on this winter."
At the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a course that usually gives him trouble -- ho took a 78 in this tournament last year -- Trevino was crisp and on target.
He rolled in a 12-foot downhill putt on No. 18, the last of three birdies, that left him at 3-under, three behind leader Bob Murphy.
Trevino has struggled since last season when he was beset by neck and back injuries. With only two events left in 1996, he kept alive his string of seven straight seasons with at least one victory by winning a five-man playoff at the Emerald Classic.
To keep the streak going, Trevino will need three more rounds like this one. He knows what it takes, though, having ruled the 50-and-over circuit for most of the 1990s.
His last big year was 1994, with six victories and $1.2 million. Each year that passes without Trevino breaking out is another that brings questions of whether a 58-year-old can hold up against younger competition.
"It's not that I've lost confidence; it's not that I haven't been working," Trevino said. "I just haven't been able to find it."
He uncovered something in the first round, even deftly dealing with his nemesis, the 580-yard, No. 13 hole nicknamed "Waterloo." He made a routine two-putt par, instead of the 9 he took there in 1994.
Trevino says the "double-shuffle" movement in his swing is missing this season, resulting in cleaner strokes and lower scores. Trevino also said he is putting better from inside 6 feet.
He has changed everything from his setup clubs to his putter, going with a $30 club he got from his caddie.
Trevino doesn't worry about his age and is happy to continue what fans see as a dream lifestyle. This winter, he'll hit a lot of golf balls and try to drop 20 pounds.
"Don't be surprised if 1998 isn't the best year I have on the senior tour," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it."