Golfers from eight high schools will tee off Thursday to begin the 2005-2006 Department of Defense Dependent Schools sports calendar.

And with the departure of last year’s top male and female golfers, the 2005 race is wide open.

“We’re hoping for a threepeat,” said Matthew Lamb, new coach of Rota, which has won Division II-III team titles in the past two European tournaments. “We’ll be going after it with two of last year’s top five (seniors Jim Connelly and Charlie Springle) and a bunch of beginners.”

Lamb, a Rota assistant last year, takes the reins from Greg Jacobs. Lamb said he and Jacobs switched positions this year.

Complicating Rota’s prospects for a third straight title, Lamb said, is that his squad won’t face any scholastic competition prior to mid-October’s European championships at Wiesbaden’s mountaintop Rheinblick layout.

“I was very disappointed we were not sent to at least one [high school] competition this year,” he said. “Last year we went to a meet in England, but this year we were told there wasn’t any funding available.”

To help his team build a competitive edge, Lamb entered Rota’s high schoolers into the Rota club championships last week and have arranged for a Ryder Cup-style tournament against Spanish golfers the week before Europeans.

Competition is no problem for defending European Division I champion Würzburg, which will be playing at Ramstein on Thursday before hosting two of the remaining three meets prior to Europeans.

According to Würzburg coach Steve Kennedy, whose team will be without last year’s female champion, his team will remain competitive.

“Life goes on,” Kennedy said. “We have a freshman girl [Kayle Helton] who by the time she’s a junior or senior should be on par to win a European title.”

Like Lamb, Kennedy, who replaces Tom Tucker at Würzburg, inherits a title-winning team.

Other 2005 coaching changes have Kent Grosshuesch taking over at Ramstein, Burt Blank moving from football to golf at Mannheim and Brian Tingey succeeding Carol Heffernan at Patch.

Kennedy said his boys, who return Jonathan and Andrew Mikkelson and Luke Seely, are “moderately experienced and very consistent.”

Golfers will gather to settle team and individual titles Oct. 13-14 at Rheinblick.

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