Twenty three years after he made his first appearance on The European Tour International Schedule in the 1982 Tunisian Open, Roger Chapman will celebrate a momentous milestone in this week’s Jazztel Open de España en Andalucìa at the San Roque Club, Cadiz, Spain, when he tees up in his 600th tournament.
The Englishman will become only the third player to achieve the notable feat, following on from Scotland’s Sam Torrance (690 events) and Eamonn Darcy of Ireland (610).
It took Chapman - who will be 46 on May 1 - 472 events to capture his sole victory on the Tour after finishing runner-up on no fewer than six occasions. He then clocked up his 500th appearance in the 2002 Open de France.
Chapman, who undertook the experience of visiting the Qualifying School in 1999 to regain his lost card at the end of 18 consecutive years on Tour, is currently without that precious commodity once more, but is looking forward to mixing it with the young and not so young in Spain.
He admitted: “The time has actually gone a lot quicker than I would have anticipated. It certainly doesn’t feel like 23 years on Tour. I suppose I had the advantage that I didn’t go to America or anything and I kept playing in Europe, whereas people like Woosnam, Lyle and Faldo haven’t even got to 500 yet and they were on Tour before me.
“But I have played solely on The European Tour and it has been fantastic - a great journey. I wouldn’t change a thing. Firstly, I love the game of golf, and secondly, I don’t know what I would have done anyway! From an early age of 13 I always wanted to play golf. I knew that I wanted to be a professional golfer.”
Reflecting on that first tournament in 1982, Chapman recalled: “I think it was the week after the Masters (in America) and my good friend, Gordon Brand Junior, finished third. We couldn’t get home on the Sunday night so I went to the prize giving. That was the first event. I made the cut and think I played with Eamonn Darcy and Des Smyth in the fourth round so it was a great experience.”
Four of the last six winners of the title, which dates back to 1912, are in the field at San Roque, namely Swedes Jarmo Sandelin and Robert Karlsson (1999 and 2001 respectively), England’s Kevin Ferrie (2003) and defending champion Christian Cévaër of France.
Also competing are the winners of the last two events, also promoted by Amen Corner, in England’s Paul Broadhurst, who won the Estoril Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos and Robert-Jan Derksen of The Netherlands, who claimed the Madeira island Open Caixa Geral de Depositos last weekend.