Toshiba Classic interview: Esteban Toledo

March 14, 2013

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We're joined this afternoon with Esteban Toledo. Esteban comes in. You played a few events this year and debuted on the Champions Tour near the end of last year.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: That's right.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: But you come back to a place that has special meaning to you here at Newport Beach Country Club in Orange County for the Toshiba Classic. Just some thoughts about playing sort of in your "hometown"?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, Phil, all the tournaments are very special, you know. I had dreamed to be in the Champions Tour for so long, and they're all exclusive and they're all nice, but this is the one that's important to me because I have my fans, I have the members, and I played this golf course so many times and I feel like that's my home golf course. And I met my wife and I had two kids and it's just fantastic. So it's very, very special. All of them are good, but this one is the most.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you maybe elaborate on how you met your wife, the whole story, can you tell us that?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, it was interesting. I don't know if you guys remember the Taco Bell Classic back 19 years ago. So I drove with my caddie one time. They asked me to play there three times, and I refused to come up here and I wasn't really interested and I didn't realize how pretty it was here. So I came back and it was at the Pro Am party here, and I met a beautiful girl, she was a waitress at the time. And so I asked her to go out with me five times, and she turned down on me five times. And Huey Lewis & the News was singing right across the parking lot and it was a big show and I had two tickets. My son is here with me, probably he doesn't know that, but I asked her to go out. She said no. And my caddie at the time, he was my date that night and I was going through a tough time during that week. And so I asked her. I asked her to go, and she said no and then I said well, I gave up. And for me to give up, it's tough, so I keep asking whatever I want. So we went to the -- my caddie and I went to the show. And then all the sudden I was just talking to some guys in the corner on the side. And when I looked to the left she was sitting right next to me. So I said, What happened there? She said, Well, give it a try, why not. So that's how I met my wife. It's probably the best decision I ever made in my life. I think it is. So we have a little girl, Eden, and she was born in 1999. So it's been fantastic since then. The members gave me a membership, and so it's been great. So that is the reason that this tournament is very special to me.

Q. What's your wife's name?


Q. Your daughter's name, how do you spell that?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Eden, E D E N. She will be 14 years old on Saturday, so hopefully I win and I can give the trophy to her. When I won the Nationwide, I gave the trophy to Nicholas, so he still keep that one. This one would also be special. So I'm going to try. I think I can do it. I know the course well, the greens and everything. So I have all the support from the Newport Beach Country Club and the community here and my family. So what else I can ask for? It's the perfect time and perfect place.

Q. What was it like to come back? I know I've talked about how special it is, but what were some of the feelings you have when you come back?

Well, a lot of things. I mean, the tournament director is doing a really good job doing this. For me it's to support the community. I asked the tournament director if I can help in any way, and I'm going to do that. But it's a win here. I play golf to win. And winning here would be amazing for everybody. I've been waiting for this for so long because I took two years off last year and I to get my game together. And I like to play for the win. I don't like the second. I like to take it all. So these guys are going to be pretty good, but winning, coming down the stretch on the last hole will be a really special day that I will probably never forget.

Q. When was the last time you played competitively here?

Well, I played the last, what, four weeks ago in Naples and so it's been a little for me a little while. I'm not used to taking three or four weeks off. I have to keep playing because I'm still young. So I got invited to play in Mazatlan last week in one of those tournaments that I got invited. And I won the tournament by one shot over those young guys, 23, 24 year olds. I gave them a little try and I ended up winning. So it helped my confidence a lot coming into this week. So it's I don't know, I'm ready to go.

Q. When was the last time you played here?

Oh, here, this golf course. Practice round, before I went to Mazatlan I came over and played three times. A little different because we played coming from the whites because they didn't let me play from all the way back, but it's been 12 days maybe, something like that.

Q. When was the last tournament round you played here she wants to know? Last competitive round.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Oh, I thought it was the last time I played.

Q. No, competitive.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Oh, competitive, okay. I don't know, back 18 years ago when I met my wife.

Q. During your two years off, what were you working on, swing changes, equipment changes, what

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: I was really working on my health more than anything else because to be able to come up here to play against the best players in the world, I have to be in great shape. I've been working a lot with my coach, Eric, out of Tustin Ranch. I have been working on it two years. I didn't want to play the PGA TOUR or the Nationwide (Tour) because I travel so much for so long and I got tired to travel. So best times in my life probably the last two years because I was able to meet my family. Traveling so much, I wasn't able to see them much. And the last two years have been fantastic. For me, being able to cook in the morning, take my kids to school, it's just you cannot ask better than that as a father.

So the rest has just been great. I mean, it's a job. I train with my trainer a little bit, and I've got a massage therapy lady who comes to my house and do the job for me. And I practice a lot. I like to practice a lot, and that's what I've been doing the last two years. Playing little tournaments in Mexico also on top of that. That really helps.


ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Take two weeks off, so I can play, make money, and come back and stay with my family. And I can't trade anything else for that.

Q. Esteban, I have a couple questions for you. Number one, you're considered the No. 1 Mexican golfer consistently over a long period of time. You've had a good career on the PGA TOUR. Now you're a youthful 50, approaching Champions Tour. How are you going to approach the game and how are you going to play the Champions Tour as you played the PGA TOUR? And then I have one more question.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: Well, it's over the years, you know, I it's been great. It's been great all the years that I played on the PGA TOUR. What happened is I dedicated my time to my game. I'm a very competitive person. I train myself to play the best game I can play. And it's been great. My discipline that I have over the years have really helped me. My determination, it really helped me. It's the whole package, I've been doing well. I had a lot of friends that they see, if I do something wrong, they tell me. And I've been working a lot, mentally, physically, to get ready for this because it's going to be a long journey.

Q. I was in Los Cabos last week. Mr. Nicklaus is building a fourth golf course at Quivira, and it was the same time that you were given the opportunity to sponsor Los Cabos as part of your Champion Tour Venue presentation. So can you tell us about Los Cabos and what your goals are and responsibilities with Los Cabos?

Well, I'll tell you what, I've been all over the world, and when I represent Los Cabos, the Secretary of Tourism, Ruben Reachi, set me up there with my manager in Mexico, I'll tell you what, I've been in the Riviera Maya, it's wonderful, but when I went to Los Cabos, it's just amazing. I guess when you have a good team and you have you give your energy 100 percent to treat the people, like all of you guys, if you want to go down there, it is fantastic. We treat you good. We want to make sure when you guys go down there, you guys have a good time. The golf course is probably one of the best golf courses I ever played in my life. Three days ago I played the Diamante. It's just outstanding golf course. To me it's the best the second best golf course I ever played in my life besides Pebble Beach. I have respect for that. I never played Augusta. But I don't know, being in the ocean, golf course on the ocean, it's tough. I played (Inaudible), which is right a little bit before Los Cabos which is a fantastic golf course. Cabo del Sol was great. And I was just there for two days, so I didn't have the time much to see the whole city, but let me tell you, the security is getting really good. The food is great. The hotels are fantastic. I mean everything is just first class, and I'm just proud and honored to represent Los Cabos because it's just a wonderful place that I ever been. I've been all over the world and I've seen them, but let me tell you, it is just fantastic. If I would be you, I would want to fly down there maybe 10 times this year because it is absolutely outstanding. And it's an honor to represent them, and I think it's going to be for a little while because image for me is very important and they picked the right guy to do it.

Q. As much as this place means to you, how do you keep from putting too much pressure on yourself this week, expecting too much out of yourself?

My wife and I have been talking about it. My agent, Jay Miller, and I were just talking about it. You know, to be honest with you, I'm going to play like a normal game. And I know people are going to cheer for me and it's a lot of pressure, but I've been there before. I've been there being times. Let me tell you something, handle that pressure when Tiger and I played back I believe in 2001 or 2002, I was very focused on something. This time I'm going to be more relaxed because this is the Champions Tour. This is not something that it's it is tough, and it's still going to be a competition, but I handled it at the time and I'm going to handle it this year. I have a lot of friends and I'm going to try to smile as much as I can. I know this course well. I know there's a lot of pressure. People put a lot of pressure, but the only pressure comes in from me, but I'm going to be fine. Trust me, I'll be fine.

Q. Esteban, do you still have a home in Irvine here?

Yes, I do. That's where I live.

Q. And when did you get that honorary membership here, do you remember when that was?

Well, it was 18 maybe about 16 years ago. They let me play, it was an honorary membership and Jerry Anderson was the manager here, and after a while I gave it away because I wasn't going to play here much. I moved to Irvine. It was 25 minutes away. Tustin Ranch offered me a wonderful deal to practice for me and my family. And my coaches, they're real close so I decided to just give it away and Tustin Ranch gave me the membership because my Monte was my coach here, and because of him I got to the PGA TOUR. Monte got a little older and I had to just move to Irvine, and I found another coach, a little younger with a good strategy that we used, and it was great. But Newport Beach is just my golf course.

Q. How many times do you think you've played here, hundreds of times?

Over 100, absolutely.

Q. Your best score, do you remember?

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: I don't remember, probably 64, 65. I know I can shoot lower.

Q. The other question I wanted to ask you about, you talked a little bit about the orphanage you wanted to build in Mexico?

You know what, I'm glad you asked me that again because, you know what, as a PGA TOUR player, as a Champions Tour player, we're all giving back to the world. And for me to be able to get that foundation with Jay Miller that is running a few things for me, it is teamwork and we're going to do that because when I went to Mexicali and I saw those 25 or 28 kids from two years old to 13 years old, that really inspired me to do something. Because I always thought about it to do something like that, but when I saw those kids I was just like a little tear came out of my eye. So Jay and I are going to work really hard to get this foundation going, and we're going to do it. I talked to the head guy or the guy who take care of the kids about five days ago. I was in Mexico City for the press conference for Los Cabos, and I heard from one of the kids. They said we miss you. I tell you what, now I'm more excited, I'm motivated to go out there and help them out. When I do that I'm going to build this facility. Jay and I were talking about it, and it's going to be great. I told him to hang on for a few months because we're going to build this facility for them, and I wanted them to have something that I never had before. So it's pushed me more to really, really help them and make sure they're stable. I want to make sure they learn about a lot of things, how to handle themselves when they get a little bigger. It will be fantastic. When I do that, I'm going to do something in the U.S. that we're going to talk about it with the Esteban Toledo Foundation. We're going to be a bunch of guys that make a good decision.

SPEAKER: Randy, we formed the Esteban Toledo Family Foundation. It's a 501(C)(3) Giving Foundation and we've got official Articles of Incorporation, our tax ID and everything. So we're starting to gather many donations now. We formed a Birdie Eagle Club for Esteban's fans and we're having our first major fundraiser September 30th at Tustin Ranch, a charity golf classic that we project to raise $50,000. It's going to be a $200,000 project and about a 4,000 square foot education center, living quarters with residence, a woman's side and men's side, close to the children's church and school. So that's project number one.

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: That's pretty good. We're going to start out kind of that way. Obviously Jay knows more that we're going to do than me because my job is to make money and my job is to bring money to the table, and his job is to take care of those things for me. My son is in charge of the Twitter, my son is in charge of the Facebook and everything in the computer. I'm not very good at computers, so I hired him to do all the job.

Another thing that I really want to mention, because it's very important in my life and I want people to know this, that the little, you know, my I was in Los Cabos, and I heard some of the worst news I can possibly came before my schedule here. My brother died. It's four days ago. I don't have nothing on my mind right now. Probably my son knows exactly when he died. He die and it was a tough, tough deal for me. The first person that I call from Los Cabos when I found out it was Phil because I felt that Phil was a good friend of mine. He can post it out there because my brother was supposed to be here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the whole week. And he die. Tough right now for me. But also it's good because he wanted me to play. I might not be there when they bury my brother. They're going to let me know today. So I asked Jeff if they can move me back from Thursday or whatever they scheduled me to do to Wednesday in the morning so I can be able to go to Mexico and come back on time for all my fans. And it is very difficult right now. But I'm not going to have an excuse. I'm going to still move forward and my dream and my goal that I want to play. I'm not going to let anybody down. I'm going to try 100 percent to play and be focused on what I want. I'm going to go back to probably tomorrow to the funeral and come back on time in the morning on Friday. So it's the decision I made because Mario, my brother, that's what he wants, me to play and I'm going to do that.

Q. What city in Mexico?

I'm going to go to Mexicali, which is about three hours away. And he had a problem, health problems and he die in San Diego. I was in Los Cabos, I couldn't do anything, and it's been like four days. So they're bringing the body back to Mexicali and then the Mexican people they're going to take care, cross the border, and we're going to go down there. But my family knows already that I am not going to be there when they bury my brother. I explained that to them and they know. They're 110 percent that I come back to Newport Beach and play.

Q. Is it an older or younger brother?

He's 56 years old. I was real close to him, but...

Q. (Inaudible.)

ESTEBAN TOLEDO: It's been great, so I'm learning all these things to be a man and handle the whole situation. My wife is with me 100 percent. All my fans, they already know that, my family. And it's going to be okay. I'm handling it really well because the people who care and love me, that's the people that they're with me in the bad times and the good times and I know my brother is going to be with me. So I'm going to have a lot of fun because of him and all my fans, everybody who cares and loves me.

Q. Mario?

Mario was the first name and Toledo. He was a really nice, really nice guy for is family for so long. Left two kids and a wife and my family, we might not have a lot of money, but we're all together and that is a family.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks Esteban. We'll let you get out of here.