Even Eastwood remembers Ontiveros as champ


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Posted Online: Feb. 06, 2013, 8:25 pm
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By Marc Nesseler, nesseler@qconline.com
You know you've become somebody when Clint Eastwood calls you "Champ."

"He made my day," Rock Island's Gregg Ontiveros chuckled, reflecting on Eastwood's famous movie line after the film star noticed him at Monday's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am players' party.

"People definitely know who you are," Ontiveros said of the fame he has acquired from winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am with PGA pro Brian Harman in 2012. "Out here, just making the cut is a big deal, so doing what we did was pretty special."

Ontiveros, a 17-handicap, and Harman scored a come-from-behind title share that was captured by national television. He and Harman trailed by three strokes heading into the final round, and wound up tied for the championship with pro Padraig Harrington and Irish businessman J.P. McManus.

The CEO of Group O in Milan, though, says there's zero pressure in carrying the mantel of defending champ, or, as Eastwood notes, just plain champ.

"Right now I don't think there's much pressure," said Ontiveros. "I tell people I'm out here to enjoy last year. During the practice round, the other three players all knew" that he had won the pro-am crown the year before.

"There are no expectations to win it again. There has never been a back-to-back winner here. Some have won it a couple of times, but never back to back."

And so, Ontiveros continues to bask in that glory of February 2012.

"Just getting out to that great start, with Brian at 6-under through nine holes, at 30, that set the tone to kind of get things going," Ontiveros recalled. "That kept us always near the top.

"On the final day, we started an hour and 10 minutes before the leaders and we were trailing by three strokes. But by the time they had teed off, we had birdied the first five holes and actually were 2 up by the time they started. I'm sure they were thinking that they had to go low."

Ontiveros brought back a brilliant trophy that still sits in his kitchen, reminding him of his and Harman's achievement.

And, now, they get to do it again, starting today.

"Brian is my partner, and I wanted to play again with Brian," Ontiveros said. "I would have been very very disappointed if I had not."

The return of the champs apparently had already been set prior to the pairings party.

"I would be happy if lightning struck twice. It was amazing. But that's not what I'm looking for or anticipating. I'm happy just to say hi to people that I've met. This is the best week of the year."

To that end, Ontiveros didn't even feel the need to improve his game, knowing he'd be back as a champ.

"I kind of wish I would have," he said. "I turned to the guys after we played (Tuesday) and said, 'Now you can obviously see that anyone can win this. I probably shot 100."

Even so, he returns to Pebble Beach with a lower handicap than he did when he won.

"I'll be a 16-handicap," Ontiveros related. "The tournament did that to me, for winning it. They're going to make it harder on you. Actually, if you made the cut, you lost one stroke automatically." Thus, the Rock Islander felt blessed that winning it didn't cost him additionally.

Ontiveros also doesn't get any additional leeway for turning 50 years on 12-12-12 – Dec. 12 of last year. Unlike the PGA Seniors Tour, there's no different classification for those hitting the half-century.

"To be quite honest," Ontiveros said, "I'm one of the youngest amateurs out here. It's like a whole senior division."

















 



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  Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The female sex seems to have gone crazy on the subject of dry goods. When high prices keep them from increasing their wardrobes, they turn to stealing. Yard goods, hats, shoes and other items are being picked up and carried home.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Members of Everts Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, under Commander H.C. Cleaveland, marched from the Masonic Temple to Trinity Episcopal Church for their annual Easter services.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Nate Hultgren pitched the Augustana College baseball team to a 10-3 victory over Carthage, striking out 11 men and allowing only four hits.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Marvel Leonhardi, a Rock Island High School senior, was the winner of an essay contest on advertising sponsored by The Argus and Advertising Age, a national advertising publication.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Augustana College band drew a crowd of 1,200 people for its annual home concert in Centennial Hall. The size of the crowd was indicative of the fact the band is rapidly approaching the stature of the Augustana Choir.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A benefit to raise money for extracurricular activities in the Rock Island Milan School District will be April 27 at the Quad City Downs harness race track. People buying $17.50 tickets to the second annual "Night at the Quad City Downs" will be entitled to an evening of harness racing and dinner.






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