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Chapman Reflects on Storybook Year


Roger Chapman has enjoyed the golf season of his life. The 53-year-old Englishman's only win of note before the Senior PGA Championship in late May came in 2000 during his 474th start on the European Tour at the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.

He followed up that surprise victory with another Champions Tour major at the U.S. Senior Open in mid-July, joining Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin as 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 then of his name being placed alongside three of the game's most prolific winners.

Both major titles came in Michigan, with the Senior PGA at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor and the Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion.

The win at Harbor Shores gave him an automatic berth in this week's PGA Championship. The 94th edition of the regular PGA Tour's fourth major of the year starts Thursday on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C.

On Tuesday, Chapman sat down with reporters and talked about his fantastic season and chances this week of going against golf's "flat-bellies." Here's what he had to say following a difficult flight to the U.S. from London, during which he temporarily lost his golf clubs and suitcase (both were later found and returned to him).

MODERATOR: One of the great golf stories of 2012, Roger Chapman, joining us at the 94th PGA Championship at the ocean course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Roger earlier this year won the Senior PGA Championship on the West coast of Michigan, and then followed that up with the U.S. Senior Open Championship on the east coast of Michigan to earn his first berth into the PGA Championship. Roger, congratulations. Welcome. It's been a tremendous few months. I would imagine it changed your life in many ways.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It certainly has. I went to Harbor Shores thinking a top 20 would be quite good. All of a sudden, I found myself with a five shot lead on the Sunday lunchtime. So all of a sudden it was not quite panic stations, but it was enjoyable. It was a great week, and I managed to get over the line for a magical win for me, my first big tournament. And then as you say, followed it up seven weeks later, six weeks later, with the U.S. Open at Indianwood on the other side of Michigan. I might buy a place in Michigan.

MODERATOR: Talk about the Ocean Course. You had a chance to play it in a practice round.

ROGER CHAPMAN: No, I left London at 12:00 on Sunday, and I got here at 2:30 Monday afternoon. I had a nightmare. At Washington I was in the airport for 14 hours, got here via Savannah in the end, lost my clubs, lost my suitcase. So apart from that, everything is great. I got my suitcase, clubs and everything about 8:00 last night. So I have not had the chance to look at the course.

Q. I think we need a little more on exactly what happened with the flight.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Well, I got to Washington fine. And then we were due to fly from Washington Dulles to Charleston at 5:00. And then it was delayed until 6:00, then it was delayed until 8:00, then it was 10:00, then it was 11:00, and as we said what's going on, they said, the plane will be here in 10 minutes. We knew it hadn't left JFK and then they said 1:20.

Then I was hanging around at 3:30 in the morning, and then eventually at 5:00 in the morning they said it's canceled. We had a mad scramble, Mark Roe and myself and I think it was four caddies, Phil Moreby, Ted Scott, and the young lad who works for - I can't remember who he works for now, so we had a mad dash over to Ronald Reagan Airport. Got a flight to Savannah, got a courtesy car from Savannah, which was two hours from there to here. So yeah, it was - I got something on YouTube on how not to talk to customs from one of the check in people.

Q. Did you ever think that you'd be back at a major?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Back? Oh, no, I thought my last Open Championship in 2002 was going to be -that was it. Obviously I tried to play in a couple more after that, but that was my last Open Championship. I hadn't thought of being at a U.S. PGA or a U.S. Open, which I'll be in next year, so the only one missing is the Masters. I wonder if there's an invitation. Not (laughing).

Q. You're probably tired of answering this in view of what's happened recently, but I'm just fascinated, you were a top amateur who beat Hal Sutton when he was the best amateur in the world in the Walker Cup. You then had an average tournament career as a pro, and now you're scaling the heights as a senior. Can you explain what happened in between?

ROGER CHAPMAN: No. I mean, I think if I'd have possibly won the '85 Swiss Masters in Crans, things might have changed. You never know. I possibly should have won that one. I think Craig Stadler beat me that year. And if I would have got over the line, things - my career might have been different.

But there's a lot of seconds around the world and sixth on the European Tour. I had a couple taken away, backed out of a couple. So yeah, it's pretty unexplainable. And then all of a sudden, senior golf, I think it gives you a new lease of life, and you're not going to be on the scrap heap for the years to come. So I think, as I said, it just gives you a new lease in life, and you try and take every opportunity you can, and fortunately those two I did.

Q. Tony Jacklin was saying that he'd said something to you. How significant was it?

ROGER CHAPMAN: When something comes from Tony, it gives you a lift. We played two rounds together at Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek, and we were walking off the 16th green on the second day, and he comes up to me and said, "Roger, I want to tell you something." I thought, oh, God, what have I done wrong. He said a few words to me, and those words were great encouragement, and it gives you a real big lift. He basically said, you're a really good player, you can make lots of money on the Senior Tour, go out and do it. That's basically what he said. But coming from somebody as high standing in the game just gives you another boost.

Q. Are you in the ultimate nothing to lose position this week?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Absolutely. My first PGA Championship, really looking forward to it. It's on a fantastic golf course. I did tell a lie. I have played it on Xbox with my son Sunday morning, so I got a bit of a feel to it. But no, it looks a fantastic piece of land, and I'm just going to enjoy it. If I make the cut, I make the cut. It's another big experience for me, and to be sort of treading the fairways with some of these wonderful young players, it's a real huge lift for me, and it's an honor to be here.

Q. Are you 100 percent fit again? And also, were you here during the Ryder Cup because you were on the committee at the time?

ROGER CHAPMAN: No, I was on the committee - if you're a board member, one of those freebies, you get on. But the neck is a lot better, thank you. And I had to pull out of the Senior Open on the Friday morning with a very, very stiff neck, and it wasn't fixed until the following Thursday. I hadn't hit balls for a whole week, so touch wood, it's okay.

MODERATOR: 2012 Senior PGA champion, Roger Chapman, thank you very much.

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