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Roger Chapman Makes Mark


Not to be confused with Monty Python's Graham Chapman or Roger Bannister of four-minute-mile fame, Roger Chapman is another Englishman who's made a name for himself - at the very least in golf.

The 53-year-old put on a dominating performance over 72 holes to win the Senior PGA Championship in wire-to-wire fashion. Considering that his only prior victory as a touring pro came in his 474th start on the European Tour in something called the 2000 at the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open, the result on Sunday was staggering since the Champions Tour's first major of the year had such an outstanding field.

After accepting the big trophy and the $378,000 that goes to the champion, Chapman met with reporters for the following interview.

MODERATOR: Roger Chapman, the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid champion, joining us at Harbor Shores. Roger today becomes the first native of England to win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, the first European to win this championship since Jock Hutchinson in 1947, and the seventh international player to capture this title. Roger, congratulations, must be one of the great days of your life, certainly of your professional career.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It's the greatest day of my professional career. No question about that. It was hard work in the end, I think I had a nine shot lead, and your mind just starts to wander a bit. And I was thinking of George all the way around. What he would be thinking and just lost my focus a bit. But I hung in there and fortunately I could bogey the last two to still win.

MODERATOR: That's a beautiful trophy to your right, how in the world does it feel to have your name on there or going on there with some of the great names in the history of the game.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It's, again, it's incredible. I mean, just looking you got Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller, Jay Haas. And it's incredible just to have my name under Tom Watson's name the defending champion. It's just, it's weird. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Open it up for questions for Senior PGA champion Roger Chapman, please.

Q. Roger, obviously it's been a long time, can you tell us how good does it feel to win. You were talking about being a bridesmaid so many times, how good does it feel to win?

ROGER CHAPMAN: It's the best feeling in the world. This is what we strive for, this is what we practice and work hard for. As I said in an interview the other day, we're very lucky to be seniors, over 50s, and still doing our profession. 53 years old, I just won my biggest check of my career. So I'm very happy.

Q. Everybody looked at the start of the round and saw what a big lead you had and I don't think people realized how difficult it is to play with a lead that big. John Cook was just in here talking about that. What was it like to play with that lead; and then when you finish that if you could just talk about what it was like to have Bobby Clampett and David Frost out there when you finished.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It is difficult because in the back of your mind you think, can I blow a five shot lead? The negative man sitting on your shoulder there, telling you all the things that could happen. But you just try and be strong with your mind, get over that. I slept, I didn't sleep great last night, I had fits and starts. I had a couple of hours here and a couple of hours there. I thought about taking a tablet, but I thought, well, if I wake up in the morning just drowsy then I'll be my own worst enemy. But it is tough. And I got off to, again, I got off to a nice start, I birdied the fourth hole, I had a career shot in there, a rescue to about 12 feet. And holed that.

I three putted the next hole. And then I birdied 6 and 7. And I felt great then. I really did feel good. Then I made a mistake at 9 and then I looked to the leaderboard a few times on the way round and I saw people making a move. Sandy Lyle got to 11. David Frost got to 10. I think Steve Pate got to 11 as well, didn't he. So, and then I made a couple of mistakes. And then you're thinking well, it's only four shots now. But four shots is a lot. But you just, it's, it's difficult. It is difficult. When you haven't been in that position before.

Q. And then just Bobby Clampett and David Frost?

ROGER CHAPMAN: That was a crazy moment. Frosty and Bobby, they looked after me when I played the Champions Tour last year for the first sort of five, six months. I stayed with Frosty a lot when he got houses. And Frosty was brilliant, actually. And I think he owed me from because he beat me in a playoff in one tournament. So I think he was, he was crying, Bobby was crying, we were all crying. It was just a very emotional momentum. Two very good friends.

Q. At various times this week we have heard you talk about your near misses and things like that. I'm wondering how many times during your career you have looked at things as someone played better than I did and deserved to win versus I was good enough to win and I should have.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah, if I had a school report I would probably give myself a B for my European Tour career. There were tournaments that I should have closed out and I think not winning early in my career, and I was expected to win early in my career, had a negative affect on the way I played and on the way, how things happened. And I would let leads slip, etcetera. So today or this week, having led from wire to wire, that to me is the greatest thing I've ever done. And the guys back home, my wife and, they have all been watching the TV and they said, they cannot believe how good I looked on the golf course, how in control. Whereas, sometimes in Europe they could see that I was nervous and things were going to maybe go negative. But they just said, just keep doing what you're doing. You're doing everything right. So it's a long learning curve. It took 26 years to learn it.

MODERATOR: For the record, Roger is the first player since Hale Irwin in 2004 to lead or share the lead after each of the two rounds and win the championship.

Q. You mentioned your mentor George Will, W I L L?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yes.

Q. And he was a pro that gave you a chance, is that correct?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah, I met him when I was 13, a chance meeting. My parents, him and his new girlfriend, who was a family friend, had dinner with another couple and the questions were asked, to my dad, have you got any children? What do they do, what do they want to do. One wants to be a professional golfer. So George says, get him up here. And so I went through the park on my bike and met him. We went and played a round of golf at his club at Sundridge Park and he said there and then that he would teach me, but I wasn't turning pro. We would see how things went.

And he was right. I won sort of junior stuff and then I won youth tournaments and then won the English Amateur, played Walker Cup. And then he said, now you can turn pro, because you've done everything, achieved everything as an amateur. And he was always there at the end of the phone, so when he passed away in 2010 it was like losing your best friend, really. He was my father figure and if I hadn't have met him I don't think I would be sitting here right now.

Q. Is that because perhaps he instilled in you so many of the mental aspects as much as swinging the golf club?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Well, George was a Ryder Cup player '63, '65 and '66. And he had a very fluid golf swing. He was a very, very good player. I think he just instilled what he learned over his career into me. I just owe everything to him. He's an incredible guy. He didn't I just, I wanted to turn pro at 16 and he said no, you're not going to be a shop boy, a shop assistant. Do you want to go out and play golf? And I said yeah. Well, he said, you're not going to turn pro. And he had the belief in me to work with me and never took one penny for a lesson. It was all for free. Not one penny. I bought him the odd glass of wine though. (Laughter.)

Case of wine. (Laughter.) He did like his red wine. (Laughter.) But, no, he never took a penny off me. And his wife and son, I got a texted from his son yesterday and wishing me well. And that was nice. That was really nice.

Q. Could you talk about how important this exemption is now. Now you're established on the Champions Tour and what that means to you.

ROGER CHAPMAN: It's huge. I never even thought about it until somebody said I think Joe Terry from the PGA Tour said, "Do you want to play next week?" And I said, "Love to, but I'm going to go home and see the wife and the boys. And I'll come out for Shoal Creek in two weeks time." It's a huge thing for me. I tried to get on the tour in 2010 tour school. Got sixth card. So I just missed out in the playoff. So to be back so soon I'm absolutely delighted.

MODERATOR: Roger's also earned an exemption into the '94 the PGA Championship in Kiawah, as well as a lifetime exemption into this championship.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Didn't know that either. (Laughter.)

Q. You talked yesterday that one of the tournaments you lost somebody had like a birdie, birdie, eagle finish or something to beat you. The way you started out today, did you want to, were you determined to make sure that if somebody holed a shot or something on the last hole you weren't going to be put in a position where that kind of shot would beat you today?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah. In a word, yes. I didn't want to just play conservative golf, I wanted to make a few birdies early on, which I did. So then maybe, I certainly kept a five shot lead, if I increase that, then all well and good. But I wasn't going to sort of play very middle of the green, because you could end up with a very, very tricky putt. So I just stuck to my game plan of being reasonably aggressive on the golf course.

Q. With the lifetime exemption you won't mind coming back here in two years?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I can't wait. (Laughter.) I don't want to wish my time away, but I shall look forward to coming back here.

Q. Talk about this course and what you thought of it throughout the week.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Well I think it's the greatest course in the world right now. (Laughter.) As I said in the, when I gave the speech in the PGA of America thing there, it was pretty cool that Jack Nicklaus has got 18 Majors on every hole. From one to his first major to 18 at the Masters in 1986. And I said to all the people in there that they would be welcome to my one hole course in a couple of years time when I build the one hole. (Laughter.)

Q. And where is dinner tonight?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Probably on the plane. British Airways. (Laughter.) The restaurant, the Grand Mere Inn is shut tonight.

Q. They would open for you.

ROGER CHAPMAN: They didn't even give me a free meal. After all that publicity I gave them. I had to pay for my meals. I said, "I'm just going to go now." And they, boom, bill. (Laughter.) But it was worth paying.

Q. That is tragic. But could you somehow compare what it feels like to win this event, if you can remember back to when you beat Hal Sutton twice in the Match Play in the Walker Cup?

ROGER CHAPMAN: This is the, as I said earlier, this is the greatest day of my career. As an amateur that was probably the greatest time I had. Winning three out of four games at Cyprus Point. And Cyprus is just a wonderful, wonderful golf course. People say to me, what's your favorite golf course, and I said, well, if I had one round left it in my life that would be Cyprus Point. So, yeah, it was nice beating Hal, because he was the golden boy, wasn't he. He won a Major a couple of years later in '83, so yeah, I got a bit of kudos for that.

Q. Hal was here earlier in the week, did that come up at all between you two?

ROGER CHAPMAN: No, I think he doesn't bring that up. I don't know why. I saw him, I only saw him on Friday or Saturday. And he was limping away and he just had a hip replacement. So I didn't realize that. But it was good to see him again and I saw him a lot last year on the Champions Tour, so we're old enemies. (Laughter.)

Q. John Cook was in here and he said watching you last couple days, he couldn't call it fun to watch because he finished second, but he said it was impressive to watch. How much fun did you have out there all week being so in control of your game?

ROGER CHAPMAN: That was the best thing, that was the best feeling because, I was just in control. It doesn't happen very often for sort of four days in a row. On my Tuesday practice afternoon the back nine I didn't hit the ball particularly well at all, went with Gavin to work on my game on the Tuesday afternoon, just got progressively better. And Thursday and Friday I felt just totally in control. And then the 64 yesterday was, it was quite easy to do, because everything went so well. You can have a 69 and you can work really hard for that. But I felt that the 64 just came very easily. And I just felt totally in control of my swing and I hope that it happens a few more times.

Q. We're pretty sure you're the first player born in Kenya to win a major of any kind in any level. Are you thinking about playing for Kenya in the Olympics and if so what were the circumstances of getting back, how you happened to be born there.

ROGER CHAPMAN: My father, my mother and father went out, my dad was working for the Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya and they went out in '57, 1957, I was born in '59. And I stayed there another year and then dad went to Trinidad for, it was the Port of Spain University on agronomy. And then after that he, we came back to England and that's when my brother and I first stepped a shore in England. But I'm passionate about England. I have an affection for Kenya, but I'm English through and through. And very proud to be.

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Chapman, 2012 Senior PGA Championship champion.

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

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