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Not even tearing his Achilles could derail this 61-year-old’s plans on a golf course

Jeff Coston tees off at the 10th hole in a qualifier for the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at the Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club.
Jeff Coston tees off at the 10th hole in a qualifier for the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at the Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club. The Bellingham Herald

Slender-built Blaine golf professional Jeff Coston likes to point out he is still very young from the neck down.

Even at 61 years old, he is fit as a fiddle.

But then comb through all the experience Coston has piled up in the Pacific Northwest Section, winning a record 20 major titles, and it is easy to see why he is still a tough customer on the golf course.

And defending champion Coston made one thing clear Tuesday at the 91st Washington Open Invitational media day at tree-lined Meridian Valley Country Club – he is still in it to win it.

“One of the reasons he is so good is his competitive nature,” said 2009 Washington Open champion Brian Thornton, who teaches at Meridian Valley. “That is who he is. He won’t back down. His mental strength is off the charts.”

It has been a huge test, because you wonder with a cast or boot on, ‘Am I ever going to run again?’ It has been a challenge, but it has made me a stronger man.

Jeff Coston

That mental will power was put to the test this winter.

One day, his two sons, Tyler (36 years old) and Kyle (30), who are accomplished basketball players worldwide, asked their dad if he wanted to join them for a pickup game at Blaine High School.

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Jeff Coston pumps his fist after making a key chip onto the 18th green, leaving him a short birdie putt at the 2016 Washington Open Invitational at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent. Now 61, Coston is the oldest player to win the tournament. Drew Perine dperine@thenewstribune.com

It was an activity Coston used to do twice a week up to his 50th birthday. Then he stopped playing.

Not this time.

“I mean, they are my two sons, who played pro ball. And I rebounded for them. I love them,” Coston said. “So I thought, ‘Man, use it or lose it.’”

On the first possession, the 6-foot-1 Coston drained a 3-pointer. Everything seemed to be just fine after a long layoff.

And then, on the next trip down the court, Coston made a cut without the basketball. He went down, clutching at his left leg.

It wasn’t until a few days later that Coston, who was set to leave to defend the Hawaii Open and celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary, discovered he had torn his left Achilles heel.

After surgery, Coston – who had never suffered as serious injury before – spent the next few months in either a cast or boot.

I’ve been screaming the truth off the rooftop that I am going to be better.

Jeff Coston

“It has been a huge test,” Coston said, “because you wonder with a cast or boot on, ‘Am I ever going to run again?’ It has been a challenge, but it has made me a stronger man.”

Coston had to cut back some of his teaching hours at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club for rehabilitation twice a day in the gym.

“My faith and my family have helped me a lot,” Coston said. “I’ve been screaming the truth off the rooftop that I am going to be better.”

Coston is tied with Chuck Congdon for Washington Open titles (five). It took Congdon 23 years to accomplish that; Coston has done it in 20.

Which is a big reason he is returning to defend his title May 22, instead of heading out for practice rounds a few days early ahead of the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C.

“I have a great record in this section, and I want to keep it going,” Coston said. “And this event has a special place in my heart.”

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