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Defending DODDS-Europe champions Jenna Eidem and Everett Plocek might as well be at the wheel of a driving-range ball picker for all the golfers aiming at them in 2013.

Wiesbaden’s Eidem won her second consecutive European golf title last fall in runaway fashion, easily outpacing her competition in a start-to-finish victory.

Ramstein’s Plocek, meanwhile, persevered through a first-round deficit to edge ahead of a tightly-packed boys field and win his first individual DODDS-Europe title.

On those merits alone, Eidem and Plocek would enter the DODDS-Europe golf season this week as clear favorites. But the champs didn’t spend their summers simply shining their medals. They sought out new challenges across the ocean, and returned to Europe all the more formidable.

Eidem, a junior, competed in some 20 junior tournaments over the summer months, travelling through Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas in search of ever-fiercer competition. She found it on the PGA’s Junior Tour, where she improved upon her 11th-place finish the previous summer to rank third in the six-week tour’s points standings.

Plocek, back for his senior season with the Royals, embarked on a similar stateside schedule, including a June appearance in the prestigious AJGA Junior at Penn State University. The event featured major college-bound linksmen from 17 states and four countries.

The fact that Eidem and Plocek sought out and thrived amongst that caliber of competition bodes well for their hopes of a continued reign atop the less-expansive European high school scene.

To that end, it’s fortunate that Eidem and Plocek indulged in such rigorous summer programs, because this year’s DODDS-Europe golf menu is slighter than ever.

The schedule only features four dates, including the European championships. The three-week regular season begins Thursday with a combined nine teams in action at Ramstein and Vilseck. Four meets follow on Sept. 26, and two more Oct. 3. The European tournament wraps things up Oct. 10-11 at Wiesbaden.

As with many sports, overwhelming depth would appear to give Ramstein the edge in the team races. The defending boys and girls championship program returns seven varsity golfers from 2012.

Plocek and teammate Joshua Davis are the only players back from last year’s European top five, while the Royals will send 2012 third-place finisher Michelle Turner in chase of Eidem.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

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