Chapman in Rarified Company


Roger Chapman has put his name alongside some of golf's all-time greats after winning the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.

The 53-year-old Englishman closed with a 4-under 66 to finish at 10-under 270 for a two-shot victory. He also added a second major title to his suddenly burgeoning resume following his late-May victory in the Senior PGA Championship. Chapman, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin are the only players to win the Senior PGA and U.S. Senior Open in the same year.

"To be in the company of such great golfers - Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin and Gary Player - is a huge, huge honor," Chapman said of his name being placed on the pantheon alongside three of golf's biggest winners.

After a bogey on the 16th hole that reduced his lead to a stroke, Chapman hit a 5-iron to a foot on the 195-yard 17th for a kick-in birdie that secured his second victory in Michigan; his Senior PGA title came at the Golf Club at Benton Harbor. Of that tee ball on 17, Chapman noted, "I have to say that was my best shot ever played."

After accepting the Champions Medal and the gleaming Senior Open Championship trophy from USGA President Glen Nager, Chapman went to the media center to explain to reporters his remarkable record in the Wolverine State as well as what happened on a windswept Sunday at Indianwood.

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we are very pleased to welcome 2012 U.S. Senior Open Champion Roger Chapman to the Media Center. Roger shot 4 under 66 in the final round of the championship. He finished 10 under for the U.S. Senior Open. In May, Roger won the Senior PGA championship. This is getting to be a habit with you, huh? Talk about what it feels like to win back to back majors.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Well, it hasn't sunk in yet, but very, very special. I believe there are only three other guys that have done a double with the U.S. PGA and the U.S. Open. And to be in Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Hale Irwin's footsteps is a true honor.

MODERATOR: Let's quickly go over your card, and then we'll open up to questions. You birdied No.2.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yes. Had a 20-degree rescue off the tee, hit a 9-iron to three feet and holed that. Pars all the way around until the 8th hole. I hit 3-wood off the tee, wedged it to about 15 feet. Had a pretty much straight downhill putt to hole that.

MODERATOR: 11.

ROGER CHAPMAN: 11, really good drive. Pitched again past the hole, but it was a pretty straight putt. All I had to do was get it moving, and it rolled into the hole. 14, good drive down the left hand side. Again, above the hole. So another 10 foot downhill. And then 17, I hit my career shot, 5-iron to within six inches. So I thought, after that, the worst you could do was be in the playoff. It was pretty special, that shot.

MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions.

Q. Roger, when you're four back beginning play today, Bernhard Langer up there on top, did you have a number in mind? Were you surprised how quickly he came back in the field?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I felt if I could get to double digits, you might have a sniff because it was quite breezy out there at times. I looked back on the scoreboard at the 2nd green, the 3rd green, and Bernhard had dropped two in the first two. I don't know whether he made it the first two holes, bogey, bogey, or double. So all of a sudden he's back to 8, and I'm 7. So I thought, wow, it's game on. There was a whole bunch of guys. John Huston was up there, Fred Funk was making a move. So it was going to turn out to be a really good afternoon's golf.

Q. Roger, first of all, when do you buy the house in Michigan?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Very soon.

Q. Congratulations.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Thank you.

Q. Also, what was your shot on 18 from the rough? I saw a little fist pump. What iron was that? What was your distance?

ROGER CHAPMAN: That was a 6-iron. I had 181 to the front off the tee shot, and pitch was on 37. So 218. It was just in a slight flying line downhill, and I thought anywhere on the green, and it was a bonus to get over like the second hump and to be within some 25 feet. It was another really good golf shot.

Q. Roger, when things got tight there on the back nine, how much were you able to draw on experience with the PGA?

ROGER CHAPMAN: It was a huge amount. I just kept saying to myself, look, you've done this before. I was actually surprised and enjoying it because I was in the mix again, which was good. I wanted to prove to myself and to other people that Benton Harbor wasn't a one off event. That was in the back of my mind also. I have to say I was enjoying it because I knew that I was swinging the club nicely. I was hitting crisp iron shots. So it was good fun.

Q. You said it's an honor to join those legends of the game, pulling off this feat. Could you just expound on that, just kind of where you've come from, where a year ago a lot of people didn't know your name, and now anybody following golf does.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It's been a huge and fast rise. Basically, I was sort of a journeyman pro on the European Tour. 25 years, one victory. Loads of seconds, but I was always the journeyman. I can't put my finger on why I won at Benton Harbor and why I won here. I'm just more confident in my golf swing. Been working with my coach, Gavin Christie. We've been working on, obviously, things, and he basically says I'm not high maintenance. You just got to hit the ball as late as possible. That's all he says to me. To be in the company of such great golfers - Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin and Gary Player - is a huge, huge honor.

Q. Great tournament this week and seven weeks ago, Roger. After 16 with that bogey, what was your thought process? What did you use on 17?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I pretty much thought - I'd gone back to 9, and I thought, well, if I finish par, par, I thought the worst would be a playoff. So my caddie Kevin, we just concentrated on finishing 3, 4, and somebody would have to make either a birdie at 17 or a birdie at 18 to get into a playoff. We chose the club 5-iron, just a little sort of holed it into the breeze a bit, and it just pitched on the upslope perfectly and just rolled up to within six inches. I have to say that was my best shot ever played.

Q. Roger, can you expound a little bit about winning twice in the state of Michigan? Is it more than a coincidence? You did it on two really completely different courses.

ROGER CHAPMAN: I can't put my finger on it. It's just everybody involved in both tournaments have been fantastic, all the volunteers. They just make you feel so welcome. It's almost like coming home to Scotland with the Scottish feel to the clubhouse and the golf course here. As I said, everybody's just been so wonderful and supportive and helpful. The people can't do enough for you. They've been wonderful people.

Q. Had you been here before May?

ROGER CHAPMAN: No. No, never been to Michigan.

Q. And did anybody put that Pure Michigan thing in your head, or did you just see it watching commercials?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Just saw it watching TV. Just came to me when I finished on 18. Somebody said you like Michigan? Just Pure Michigan. Just came to me. Switching the light bulb on. No, it's a terrific place, love it.

MODERATOR: The advertising seems to be working.

Q. This is a little off the beaten path, but I read somewhere where you were a European Tour rules official.

ROGER CHAPMAN: I quit the main tour end of 2006, and obviously, I wanted to play senior golf. So I had sort of three years to wait. The European Tour approached me early on and said would you like to do some refereeing on the Senior Tour. I turned them down once, couldn't get the sort of company days that I wanted to do going, and David Gallo from the European Tour asked me again. I thought, well, I'll have a go and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very boring sitting on a buggy for 13 hours a day, but the good part of it was doing course setup. Really enjoyed doing the tees and greens. I learned a lot. And to watch from the outside of the ropes all your mates playing inside the ropes was hard to take. So three years went quite slowly.

MODERATOR: To that point, are there lessons that others can take from your success late in your career?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah, I think so. With golf, we're very, very lucky to have a Senior Tour at 50. We're very lucky to play competitive golf until we're - I don't know. If we keep ourselves fit, to 60, 65, whereas no other sport you could compete against all the guys you compete against as a 20 year old. You can't do that in any other sport. So golf, we're very lucky and privileged to play this wonderful game.

Q. You were in Benton Harbor by yourself, but you had your wife here this week. How special is that to have her here for this?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Wonderful. She's been my rock for 26 years. We went out together, and after 17 days, I asked her to marry me. So you know how special she is. It's wonderful that she was here.

Q. What's her name?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Cathy with a C.

Q. Roger, did you know much about Wilfred Reid who designed this course?

ROGER CHAPMAN: No, but I like his work. I got to the course Tuesday and just liked the look of the field. If you look out on the 1st fairway and see the humps and hillocks, it just reminds you of Scotland. With the Scottish theme, I think he's done a wonderful job. The course layout was excellent. The holes were in the right place today. So I want to thank whoever cut the holes today. Thank you.

Q. Cathy, C a t h y?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yes.

Q. When you were walking off 18, were those tears or sweat or both you were wiping away from your cheeks?

ROGER CHAPMAN: They were tears. It's so nice that she was here. She missed the first one. We never knew that there would be one so quickly. We never knew there would be another one. So it was very special that she was there. She and the boys. I haven't had a chance to ring the boys at home yet, C.J. and Tom. I'm sure they'll be cracking into something.

Q. Not sure if you're aware of this, but you were very, very consistent in all your rounds, very little separated you in your fairways, your greens, even your scores. Is that typical of your game? Is that something you strived to do in this championship was to maintain that consistency throughout?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I mean, to win any championship, whether it be a Champions Tour event or a major, Senior major, you have to have that consistency. In the past, I was quite good at three rounds but not finishing off. So to play three good rounds, the first three rounds, and then to come out on the last day and shoot 66 shows that the consistency and the ball striking and the short game is beginning to take fruition. Just really looking forward to Turnberry right now.

MODERATOR: 2012 U.S. Senior Open champion Roger Chapman. Congratulations.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Thank you.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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