THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Esteban Toledo became the first Mexican winner in Champions Tour history last year in the Insperity Championship.
He likes the way he's being treated now that he's back for his title defense and is especially fond of his competitors calling him ''champ.''
''I'm just the same guy,'' Toledo said. ''They treat me with respect and they honor me as a champion. I can see how every week, every champ up here they treat him good, they know who won last year and I think they're kind of excited for me this week.''
The 54-hole tournament opens Friday at The Woodlands Country Club.
Toledo overcame a seven-stroke deficit last year and won on the third hole of a playoff. He was making his ninth career start on the 50-and-over tour. He picked up his second win at the Montreal Championship in September.
But he isn't happy simply to coast on what he did a year ago.
''I believe I can win again,'' he said. ''I don't have no doubt in my mind, that's why I prepare myself well and I'm going to have a lot of fun this week. This is my week and it will be my week until Sunday.''
Bernhard Langer is the only player with back-to-back Insperity titles after winning at Augusta Pines in 2007 and The Woodlands in 2008. A win this week would give Langer his 20th Champions Tour win and make him the only three-time winner of the Insperity.
''This is a great test of golf,'' Langer said. ''This golf course has proven itself over the years. It's an outstanding layout and it's usually in great condition. It's always fun coming back here.''
Langer, who will turn 57 in August, has been a model of consistency over the last two years and said that being steady gets easier with age. But he also knows things won't get easier as he gets older.
''I know the clock is ticking and it gets harder and harder once you get near that 60 and over-60 mark,'' he said. ''But there's been some great players like Hale Irwin and Tom Watson and Gil Morgan, Larry Nelson, they hung in there for a long time so I'm hoping to do the same thing.''
Also in the field are Fred Couples, who won the event in 2010 and picked up his last victory in Newport Beach, Calif., in March, 2012 winner Fred Funk and Woodlands resident Jeff Maggert.
Couples, who went to the University of Houston, called the Insperity his favorite event. He missed the other tournament in the area this year when he tweaked his back the week before the PGA Tour's Houston Open and had to pull out.
Maggert won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in March in his debut on the Champions Tour and is hoping to continue his good start in his hometown.
''Mississippi obviously was about as good as it could get, hopefully I (can) repeat here,'' Maggert said. ''But (there are) a lot of good players this week and a very difficult golf course, so I need to play well, be on my A game, make sure my short game and putting is sharp.''
He'll certainly have familiarity on his side this weekend.
''Obviously I played a lot of golf on this golf course as a kid and amateur golf early in my professional career,'' he said. ''So just a lot of confidence, a lot of good memories.''