If not the typical Bolling ... then who?

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Will Seger is one golfer in The Herald’s Dubois County Men’s Amateur who will be trying to interrupt Derek Bolling’s reign. The 11-time winner will shoot to defend last year’s crown at this year’s tourney, which kicks off Saturday at Jasper Municipal Golf Course and continues Sunday at Huntingburg Country Club.

Herald Sports Editor

Short of a meteorite plunking his home, it’s getting to the point where it seems nothing can prevent Derek Bolling from annexing another first-place trophy to his collection.

In the last 14 installments of The Herald’s Dubois County Amateur men’s golf tournament, Bolling has won 11 times. Still, threats to his dominance lurk. The Huntingburg resident sees two within his own family. And the way he talks, a newcomer could be the favorite to interrupt his reign atop the tournament, which kicks off Saturday at Jasper Municipal Golf Course, continues Sunday at Huntingburg Country Club and concludes July 21 at Sultan’s Run Golf Club.

It’s never easy upstaging The Bolling Show, but as Bolling himself breaks it down, there’s no shortage of golfers capable of doing so.

Derek’s father, Brad Bolling, owns five County Am titles, the most of any other golfer in the field besides Derek. Brad’s consistency has landed him top-five finishes in 17 of the last 18 years — the only exception being a sixth-place finish in 2006.

The wild card in this year’s tourney could be Will Seger. Playing in his first County Am in the layover between his standout career at Jasper High School (in which he finished 11th at the state finals in 2012 and third this spring) and the start of his career at Indiana University, Seger should be a factor. So, too, could Derek’s brother Bryson Bolling, whose 10th-place effort a year ago was eight spots better than his 2011 finish.

“My dad’s got a very good repetitive golf swing, and that’s why he’s always there,” Derek said. “He’s a smart golfer, a self-taught golfer. If he starts to hit some sideways, he can self-correct himself in the middle of a round and get himself going.”

“The new person that I’m sure everybody looks (at) and think is the favorite is Will Seger,” Bolling continued. “There was one point in time where I was the young guy on the block and Skip Place had joked about having socks older than me. And now I’m 31, two kids, family, and now I’m the guy that’s the veteran type of player, and I’m looking at these younger guys. Will is a great player, he’s a great kid, he’s got golf and a great future in front of him. I’m excited to see him in the field.”

“Another player that’s really starting to play very well is my brother Bryson,” Derek said. “He’s always had a good game, but he’s always struggled with getting in his own way, and I think he’s finally starting to realize that he has the potential and the ability to play. He’s definitely coming around, and he’s going to be up there in the ranks as well.”

Aside from Seger, Bolling’s impressed with two more former Jasper High School golfers whose games have continually improved. Tyler Gray, last year’s junior champion who also nabbed fifth overall, isn’t playing this year because of another commitment in his schedule.

Bolling knows how good the new wave can be. He just wishes it were a bit louder.

Ian Weyer, I’m playing with him (this weekend) and I’ve played with him before. I know he’s a good golfer. I know (Justin) Leibering is a pretty good player. ... I just think that the younger kids need to get more active in the tournament, because this is a tournament that’s in their backyard and it can be a stepping stone to bigger and greater things in the future. ... We all know that there’s tournaments tri-state wide and statewide, but I’ve always been an advocate that if you can’t beat people in your backyard, then why do you need to proceed further?”

Greg Olinger has landed in the top 10 in 11 of the last 13 years, and were it not for a single-stroke setback to Derek Bolling in 2006, the Huntingburg resident would be a former title holder.

The runner-up routine has been similar for John Parker, who’s finished second to Derek Bolling since seizing the 2004 County Am crown. The 59-year-old’s game is as polished as ever; the three-round sum of 215 he posted last year matched his best County Am total. Tom Nord, the runner-up to Brad Bolling in 1998, is back in the field this year.

“All the guys from Huntingburg have been a key part of me growing up, because I’ve always been around my dad and been around the guys. I think Greg Olinger stands out, I think George Nord stands out. Tom Nord hasn’t played for a long time, he has a chance to get back in the mix,” he said. “I think the world of John Parker and I’d like to see him (succeed). John and I had a battle at Jasper Country Club (in 2004) where he got the better of me, and he has always handled himself with such a great demeanor with anyone he’s playing with on the golf course.”

Bolling reserves admiration for other competitors in the field, even if they’re not likely to be stalking the leaders on the final weekend. The numbers scrawled on their scorecards is irrelevant, Bolling insists. Their chronic presence fits right with the pulse of the tourney.

“For an older golfer, Marion Murphy doesn’t get a lot of attention, he’s an older golfer who’s got a very good golf swing and hits the ball great. He doesn’t play in a bunch of tournaments, but he still hits the ball very well,” Bolling said. “Bruce Reinhart plays in the tournament every year, fights to make the cut off and on. Those kind of golfers — every golfer in the tournament, whether they make the cut, make the top 20, make the top 10 — everybody’s trying to attempt something to better themselves.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.

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