Esteban Toledo had already played the 18th hole three times Sunday in the Allianz Championship, so maybe, just maybe, he was getting tired of playing it.
Toledo, born in Mexico, made sure he didn’t have to take on No. 18 a fourth time by making a 3 1/2-foot par putt on the third playoff hole, the par-4 No. 17, to defeat Billy Andrade on the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton.
That allowed Toledo to walk away with the winner’s trophy in the PGA Tour Champions event and also walk to his bank with the $262,500 winner’s check.
The playoff became necessary when Andrade agonizingly missed a three-foot putt on the 18th hole in regulation.
That signaled Toledo, who had finished earlier, to leave the driving range and report for golf’s equivalent of overtime. The playoff format called for playing 18 twice, then going to 17, and then if necessary — and it wasn’t — going back again to 18.
Toledo, 53, won by making three pars in the playoff after he and Andrade finished regulation at 11-under 205.
How will Toledo celebrate?
“I’m just happy it’s over, and I’m going to just enjoy myself and eat Mexican food, because when I won in Montreal , I celebrated with my caddie with a burger in my room,” Toledo said. “So I’m going to celebrate with something better this time.”
Toledo, who shot 68-70-67—205 for the three days, admitted the playoff was nerve-racking.
“Being in a playoff is not that easy,” he said. “It’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of nerves. Just you against the other guy.
“You’ve got to bring your game to the best you can and, hopefully, they make the mistake and you don’t. So I’m just so happy it’s over.”
After the drives on the deciding third playoff hole, Toledo was at a disadvantage, being outdriven by Andrade by a sizable margin.
Toledo hit a 6-iron long to the green, leaving a huge putt of 70 feet. Andrade then hit his approach several yards short of the green, but he had to chip over a slight embankment.
Toledo rolled his long putt to 3 1/2 feet from the hole, and Andrade left his chip six feet away.
Andrade, who missed the putt, said, “I hit a really good putt. I can’t believe it didn’t go in.”
Then he watched Toledo roll his putt in.
Toledo, who has done some boxing in his time, threw some air punches in celebrating.
“I got excited, really excited,” Toledo said. “Threw the left hook. I throw my left hook when I celebrate something and it looks good.”
Corey Pavin, the leader the first two days, struggled to a 3-over 75 on a windy final day and finished in a tie for 10th.
The victory by Toledo, who has never won on the PGA Tour, was his fourth win on the PGA Tour Champions, and strangely three of those have come in three-hole playoffs.
Andrade, 52, who has won four times on the PGA Tour and three times on the PGA Tour Champions, admitted he knew exactly whom to blame for his missed three-footer on 18 in regulation: himself.
He painstakingly described the disaster of his own making.
“I was thinking about winning instead of thinking about making the putt, getting ahead of myself,” Andrade admitted. All the things you’re not supposed to do.
“I just hit a very poor putt. It was a terrible putt. It was awful.”
Finally, Andrade summed up his disappointment by stating what amounts to a golf truism.
“I’m going to miss a few more putts in my time, and I’ll make a few more, too.”
Also, Andrade gave a tip of his golf cap to Toledo.
He said the two of them exchanged few words during the playoffs.
“He was in his little zone, and I was trying to do my own stuff,” Andrade said. “But I admire him and I think he admires me. We’re compadres so to speak.”
Toledo returned the compliment.
“I wish him [Andrade] good luck because he’s a good guy and good player, and that is good for this tour,” he said. “Such a humble guy and such a nice guy that you wish him the best.”