Defending champs battling to repeat
Stars and Stripes October 11, 2012
OFTERSHEIM, Germany – Defending champions Joe Patrick of Heidelberg and Jenna Eidem of Wiesbaden were atop the leader board Thursday after the first day of the 36-hole, 2012 DODDS-Europe high school golf championships.
Using a modified Stableford scoring system that awards one point for double-bogey, two for bogey, three for par, four for birdie and six for eagle or ace, Patrick earned 49 points and Eidem 39.
No one scored any higher than the champs did on Day 1, but there the similarities ended.
Eidem, a sophomore, will take a robust 12-point lead into Friday’s second round. Patrick, on the other hand, will find himself in a tight final foursome that includes Ramstein senior Christian Gunia, who rode two back-nine birdies to a 27 that left him tied with Patrick at 49; top-seed Everett Plocek, a Ramstein sophomore who carded three front-nine birdies but cooled off after the turn to total 46 points, and either Lakenheath sophomore Kyler Zachary or Bahrain senior Ilya Goniker. Both of them amassed 44 points on Thursday.
For the leading boys, Thursday’s rounds turned on No. 14, a 536-yard par-5, and No. 15, a 118-yard par-3.
Patrick, a senior who followed his 26-point, one-over-par front nine with three bogeys and a double-bogey on Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13, found himself staring at bogey again, lying four with his ball 40 feet away from the cup on No. 14.
He rolled the long one in, however, to save par, then sank a 20-footer for birdie on 15 to right the ship.
The made putts, the second of which furnished his second birdie of the day, were a welcome change for the defending champ.
“I missed a lot of putts,” he said. “I had four birdie putts lip out.”
Playing 14 and 15 even better was Ramstein senior Gunia. He birdied them both.
“Things came together on the back nine,” said Gunia, who saw his putt for a third straight birdie lip out on No. 16, a 466-yard par-5.
Even with the bad break, Gunia shot an even-par 36 on the back nine, despite some chipping problems he was planning to work on Thursday evening. Patrick, Gunia and Plocek each scored five-over 77s for Round 1.
Both Patrick and Gunia are teeing up last year’s experience here to help them this time around.
“I’m using last year as motivation,” Gunia said. “I finished sixth last year and ninth the year before. I want to do better this year.”
Patrick, who played in the second foursome on Thursday, said his status as defending champ helps defuse rather than intensify any tension.
“There’s no pressure on me,” he said. “I don’t have anything to prove.”
Eidem carded her second birdie of the day on the 227-yard, par-4 13th hole as part of a near-decisive back nine that saw her expand her two-point, front-nine lead over Ramstein’s Ashley Kranz to 12.
The putt marked her complete recovery from some pre-match jitters.
“I was really kind of nervous,” she said. “Everyone at school was saying, ‘Bring us back the gold.’ But once I got out on the course, everything was fun.”