by Craig Dolch, Special to AmateurGolf.com
JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Jeronimo Esteve
said if you saw him play earlier this week, you wouldn’t have picked him to win the George L. Coleman Invitational.
Heck, you wouldn’t have picked Esteve to win Saturday when he went off in the final group of the Mid-Amateur division with Stewart Hagestad
and Evan Beck
“I’m the old guy and those guys are in consideration to be picked for the Walker Cup team,” Esteve said.
Hagestad and Beck are younger, hit the ball farther and oh, by the way, finished 1-2 in last year’s Coleman at Seminole Golf Club.
But the young bucks could only applaud when Esteve made a three-foot bogey putt at the 18th hole to win the mid-am division of the Coleman as a storm was about to hit Seminole. The lightning-alarm system went off just after Esteve’s putt dropped, clinching his one-shot victory over Beck. Esteve, a Puerto Rico native, shot 73 to finish at even-par 216.
“To come out on top against these guys is pretty special,” said Esteve, a 41-year-old car dealership owner from Windermere, FL. “I’m in a little bit of disbelief. All week, I just hung in there. When I made a bogey, I would just shrug it off.”
No doubt that perspective came from Esteve being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011 when he was 29. The cancer survivor said golf helped him heal.
“Golf is what got me through it all,” Esteve said. “That was my escape. I stopped thinking about the cancer and was just thinking about golf.”
Esteve’s short game helped him around Donald Ross’ gem of a course Saturday in typical blustery conditions. The key moment came when Esteve hit an exquisite bump-and-run to save par at No. 6 while Beck was making double bogey.
“The guys back at the club (at Isleworth) call me ‘Heavy Seve,’” Esteve said, referring to Hall of Famer Seve Ballesteros. His buddies at Isleworth near Orlando might have been the only ones who thought Esteve had a chance to win Saturday.
Beck thought it was his time to win after losing a back-nine lead to Hagestad last year. Beck had a one-shot cushion starting Saturday’s round that he extended to three after three holes. But then he played the next three holes 4-over and never led again.
“It’s not great,” Beck said of the runner-up finishes. “I was leading last year, too, and didn’t get it done. I played really bad for a three-hole stretch and didn’t have enough time to catch up.”
Hagestad had a 77 and finished fifth, a shot behind first-round leader Mark Costanza
(75) and Zach Atkinson
The Senior Division title was won by Roger Newsom
, a 59-year-old ophthalmologist from Virginia Beach, Va. Newsom shot 70 Saturday to finish at 1-under 215 – the only player in the tournament under par – to win by two over Mike McCoy
Newsom won the 2012 Eastern Amateur
and was runner-up in the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur, but Saturday’s win was clearly his biggest moment in golf. He was emotional after the win.
“Because I’m an eye surgeon, I’m a true amateur,” Newsom said. “And I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. I don’t play every day, I didn’t play for two weeks before coming down here, so this is very special for me.”
It was also special to have Virginia amateur legend Vinny Giles, a Seminole member, to be among the first to greet Newsom as he was walking off the 18th green. Newsom said it was Giles who called him more than a decade ago to ask if he wanted to play in the Coleman.
“I thought Vinny was kidding, but I had the presence to say ‘Yes!’” Newsom said. “I grew up watching Vinny. He is the standard in Virginia amateur golf.”
McCoy, who will captain the U.S. Walker Cup team this fall, made three birdies on the back nine to put the pressure on Newsom. But McCoy’s charge ended with a double bogey at the par-5 15th.
“Just made a big mistake at 15,” McCoy said. “Roger played great. He’s a momentum kind of guy. When he gets it going, he’s tough.”
Esteve and Newsom were beaming when they were asked about having their names added to the list of Coleman winners inside the Seminole locker room.
“The greats of the mid-am game are up there on that board,” Esteve said. “I cannot believe a Puerto Rican is up there. I’m just so incredibly proud of what I did this week.”
• • • • •
Craig Dolch is a 40-year journalist who has covered golf, been to 50 majors as well as a series of Ryder Cups, caddied at the Honda Classic and for seven years hosted golf radio show on ESPN West Palm. He was a longtime golf writer for the Palm Beach Post and his work as appeared in Sports Illustrated, New York Times, Golf World, Golf Digest and USA TODAY.
ABOUT THE Coleman Invitational
One of the very best amateur events all year
long played on the last great private course
designed by Donald Ross. The course, not long
today's standards, lies hard by the Atlantic
Ocean. Oceanic winds and very fast greens
this course teeth. Ben Hogan once said 'If you
can play Seminole, you can play any course in
The tournament is a 54-hole stroke play invitational
that draws an elite field of mid-
amateurs and seniors.
View Complete Tournament Information