Mexico’s Esteban Toledo won the Insperity Championship on Cinco de Mayo. Cool story, but that’s just the half of it. In March, older brother Mario, who helped Toledo become an accomplished bantamweight boxer in his youth, died in San Diego only days before planning to watch Esteban compete at the Toshiba Classic.
Though Toledo hung up the gloves after complications from an emergency appendectomy, he still possesses a fighter’s spirit. Knocked down a few times in 289 starts on the PGA Tour without a victory, he never gave up on his dream. Toledo, 50, making his ninth Champions Tour start, won in Houston with a par on the third playoff hole, and dropped to his knees and looked to the heavens. Next up: This week’s Senior PGA.
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You won back in 2005 on the Nationwide Tour, but what did it mean to win your biggest title to date?
Toledo: I was going through a tough time. I just lost my older brother right before the Toshiba Classic. He was 56 years old. I drove three hours to Mexicali to pay my respects. I told my brother I’m going to win for him by the end of the year. That’s the reason I went down to my knees (when I won) because I was celebrating, and I told my brother that I finally did it.
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Why do you think it took you so long to win?
Toledo: When I played the PGA Tour, I tried everything I could. I thought I was good at the time, but maybe I wasn’t. There are so many good players hungry for success.
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Now that you have won, what’s next?
Toledo: This season, I have three goals. I write things down because if I don’t, then it’s just a wish. I told my wife, ‘I’m going to finish in the top 30, I’m going to win the Rookie of the Year, and I’m going to win a Champions Tour major.’ So I’m on my way, but now I’m going to work harder than before because I know I can win a major.