Defending champs headed back to links
Heidelberg's Joseph Patrick watches his tee shot fly in final round action at the 2011 DODDS-Europe golf championships at the Heidelberg Golf Club last October. Patrick shot a 44, using a modified Stableford scoring system, to go with a 41 in the opening round to capture the title.
When the high school season tees off Thursday at the Stuttgart and Woodlawn golf courses, one challenge to the continent’s American golfing teens is clear.
Anyone hoping to win his or her first DODDS-Europe golf title will have to dethrone a defending champion to do it.
Making that task even tougher for any challenger, those returning champs – Wiesbaden sophomore Jenna Eidem and Heidelberg senior Joe Patrick – have spent the offseason doing more than just polishing their championship plaques.
They’ve been honing their games, too.
“Jenna spent the summer golfing in numerous high-level PGA youth tournaments throughout the States,” Wiesbaden coach Jim Campbell wrote in a recent email. “Her dedication to the game this summer was obvious on the first day of practice as I immediately noticed improvements in all aspects of the game.”
Patrick didn’t let a lot of grass grow under his feet, either. As soon as his all-conference baseball season ended, Patrick began his intense summer of golf.
“I played nearly every day,” he said prior to a Tuesday practice session. “I played a lot of tournaments around here.”
When crunch time rolls around again – this year the European tournament is scheduled for Oct. 11-12 – Patrick again will enjoy the home-course advantage he said aided his three Stableford-points victory last fall over Ramstein’s James Cho, now a plebe at West Point.
The tournament again will be played at the Heidelberg golf course in the city’s Oftersheim suburb.
“I could tell I was more comfortable out there than the other players,” Patrick said at the time. “I know this course like the back of my hand.”
For 2012, DODDS-Europe will continue its Stableford scoring system that awards a point for double-bogey, two for bogey, three for par, four for birdie and six for eagle or ace. Team scores are the combined top four scores, and a minimum of four boys and two girls is required to qualify for team scoring.
In spite of the departure of boys’ silver-medalist Cho and girls’ bronze-medalist Sasha Phoenix, Ramstein again appears to have the teams to beat. The Royals won last year’s boys’ title by 93 points over runner-up Lakenheath and the girls’ title by 101 points over runner-up Heidelberg.
“Our top four men are solid: Christian Gunia (77 points in the 2011 Europeans), Everett Plocek (79 points in 2011), Joshua Davis (72 points in last year’s final) and Andi Abel (66 in the finals),” Ramstein coach Jeff Pellaton wrote in an email about his final Royals’ team. “… (A)ll were top ten last year and all have improved.”
Pellaton’s female champs also appear ready to dominate the sparse girls’ field again. Only two teams qualified the minimum two golfers required last year, and that situation’s unlikely to change this time around.
Ramstein returns Ashley Kranz, who carded 37 points in last year’s final, and Michelle Turner, who scored a 34. They’re supplemented by the usual quality Ramstein newcomers, Pellaton wrote.
“… (W)e welcome three very solid prospects in Dametrah Lewis, Megan Harvey and Kali Phillips,” he reported, adding that the 2012 Royals “could be the strongest women’s team we’ve ever had.”
Eleven schools in Central Europe, along with Lakenheath and Rota, are scheduled to play golf this year. The 11 contiguous schools – AFNORTH (playing for the first time this year), Bamberg, Baumholder, Bitburg, Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern, Patch, Ramstein, SHAPE, Vilseck and Wiesbaden – are scheduled for weekly week-day events leading up to Europeans. Lakenheth and Rota will play two-day, home-and-home events Sept. 21-22 in England and Oct. 5-6 in Spain.