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Acker looks to retain title; boys will have new champ

Kaiserslautern's Jasmin Acker chips a shot from a sand bunker during the DODEA-Europe golf championship at Rheinblick golf course in Wiesbaden, Germany on Oct. 5, 2016.

MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 11, 2017

The season amounts to two days at the end of this week.

Almost literally.

The 2017 DODEA-Europe golf championship tournament will be held Thursday and Friday at Rheinblick Golf Course in Wiesbaden, Germany, crowning the organization’s first European champions of the school year and bringing an end to its briefest sports season.

The two-day tournament, featuring 17 boys and six girls playing for individual and team championships, wraps up a month-long campaign that opened on Sept. 13 and even took a two-week hiatus between its Sept. 28 regular-season finale and this week’s final meet.

The short season, and its late scheduling quirk, hasn’t afforded much opportunity for this week’s 23 contenders to face live competition before competing for the championship. That could have an impact on the quality of play this week. “The idle weekend does make it a little harder to keep players focused and driven to improve,” Kaiserslautern head coach Chris Grogan.

James Campbell, coach of the host Wiesbaden Warriors, agreed.

“There is always the risk that the athletes could lose parts of their game,” Campbell said.

But DODEA-Europe athletes and coaches have vast experience dealing with schedules and situations that would be considered unusual in nearly any other high school sports setting. Grogan said he planned to use the free time to have his Raiders “play the Wiesbaden golf course as much as possible,” while Campbell was optimistic that this week’s contenders wouldn’t allow their games to atrophy.

“For the dedicated golfer, the opposite effect will take place,” Campbell said. “The extra week before the European championships gives them the chance for more practice and the ability to fine-tune their game.”

The next two days will test which players were able to best accomplish that.

Kaiserslautern senior Jasmin Acker of Kaiserslautern is back in search of her third consecutive European title. But the field she’s attempting to fend off is closing in fast, and in fact may have already caught up. Acker finished fourth in the Sept. 28 meet at Rheinblick, finishing four points behind winner Phoebe Shin of Ramstein and three points behind Ramstein’s Lauren Sutherland and Sydney Smith.

Ramstein has a decisive edge for the team crown whether or not Shin or Sutherland is able to supplant Acker for individual honors. The school accounts for half of the six-girl field, while Kaiserslautern, Lakenheath and Stuttgart will draw points from just one representative apiece.

The Royals have a similar advantage in the boys team competition with six spots among the tournament’s 17 entries. Lakenheath follows with four representatives, while the host Warriors bring three and Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart have two players apiece.

The individual boys crown was left vacant upon the graduation of four-time champion Jordan Holifield of Stuttgart, and his successor is likely to come from among his closest competitors in 2016. Bryan Cortese of Wiesbaden, Jonathan Ciero of Ramstein and Kaden Senkbeil of Kaiserslautern headline this year’s field after rounding out last year’s top four.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

Ramstein's Jonathan Ciero celebrates making a putt during the DODEA-Europe golf championship at Rheinblick golf course in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016.
MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

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