Esteban Toledo is easy to locate at a PGA Tour event. He is the one on the practice putting green until the sun begins to set.
Toledo, 36, circles the hole from every angle, staring down the cup like he once did opponents in his previous place of business: the boxing ring.
Toledo grew up in a farmhouse with a dirt floor in Mexicali, Mexico, then won 12 bouts as a professional boxer. Appendicitis ended that career, so he turned to golf.
After 12 trips to qualifying school, Toledo earned his exempt status on the PGA Tour and has been a professional since 1986. This past week brought him to the Kemper Open at TPC at Avenel, where he finished 6 over par.
"Everything comes from down deep," he said. "You set up a goal and you set up a dream and then go out and do it."
Toledo learned to play golf while working at a driving range in Mexico. He played in three tour events between 1986 and 1990, when he began a three-year stint on the Nike Tour. He played well, with second-place finishes at the 1991 Reno Open and 1993 White Rose Classic.
Toledo earned his PGA Tour card by finishing tied for 26th place at the 1993 qualifying school. But when he earned just $66,000 on tour in 1994 and failed to regain his card at qualifying school, he spent much of the next three seasons on the Nike Tour.
Toledo regained his tour card at the 1997 qualifying school and made the most of his opportunity. He won $327,244 last season to finish 93rd on the PGA Tour money list, which meant he did not have to return to qualifying school for the first time since he turned professional in 1986.
He struggled early this year, particularly with his putting. He missed four consecutive cuts and feared that his inability to make short putts might be a long-term problem. His focus had shifted from golf to his wife, Colleen, who was experiencing a difficult pregnancy.
"Everything is different now," said Toledo, whose daughter, Eden, was born healthy in March. "My family is first and golfing is second. Don't get me wrong. I'm never going to lose my [tour] card, but I realized, this year, when my wife was having some trouble, that she was more important."
Now Toledo, who has represented Mexico in four World Cup competitions, brings his family to every tournament. When Toledo has difficult rounds, such as his weekend scores of 74 and 73 at the Kemper Open, there is his son, Nicholas, 9, at the scorer's tent to greet him, carrying his new baby sister.
"It takes a lot of time to be on the tour and become a good player," he said. "I know I will become that. But life on the tour is not easy, and my wife has been through a lot with me. I owe it to her to bring the family with me wherever I go."
Toledo has made 8 of 11 cuts since he started bringing his family to tournaments. He also has earned more than $150,000 since the end of February. Toledo's putting is back on track, and so is he.
"For me right now, that goal is to win and I know I will win," he said. "That's why I'm out here. But I can see things differently now and that is now the second most important thing."