Friday, 19 March 2010

Nearly two and a half years after his last appearance, England's Roger Chapman returns to The European Tour this week - for one tournament only.

The 49 year old, one of just five players to have teed off in more than 600 events on the circuit, competes in the Madeira Islands Open BPI - Portugal on Porto Santo.

Chapman, a member of The Tour's Board of Directors, sought and was granted a sponsor's invitation to help him prepare for his European Senior Tour debut in May.

"I was looking around to see what I could play in and asked if there was a chance of this," he said.

"I want to hit the ground running once I'm 50 so have been keeping myself fit in the gym and playing as much as I can.

"I'm really looking forward to it, although having been away for so long I'm sure it's going to be an eye-opener in terms of how far the guys hit it now.

"They just stand up and whack it. We were a bit more reserved in our day!"

Chapman made his Tour debut in 1982 and had to wait 18 years, and 472 events, for his one and only victory, beating Padraig Harrington no less in a play-off in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.

He had been forced to go back to Qualifying School a year earlier and after further visits in 2004 and 2005 announced his retirement the following October.

Not that his involvement ended there. Offered the chance to become a Tour referee he declined at first, but then accepted and has worked for the last 18 months, mostly on the Senior circuit.

Madeira is the 16th event on The 2009 European Tour International Schedule, but the first actually on European soil. This was also the tournament where Des Smyth became the oldest winner in The European Tour’s history back in 2001, the Irishman winning aged 48 years and 34 days - a record which still stands.

Not that it is on Madeira this time. After 16 stagings at Santo da Serra the tournament switches to the nearby island of Porto Santo - less than eight miles long and four miles across at its widest point - and the new Seve Ballesteros designed course.

The Ryder Cup players in the field include Phillip Price, Paul Broadhurst, Niclas Fasth, Peter Baker, Andrew Coltart, 52 year old Costantino Rocca and Jean Van de Velde, winner of the title three years ago.

Scot Alastair Forsyth won the title last year after a play-off with South African Hennie Otto, but neither is competing this time for a first prize of €116,660.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GOYA, EstanislaoARG18-6
2MACAULAY, CallumSCO18-5
T3MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-4
T3BESSELING, WilNED18-4
5WALL, AnthonyENG18-3
6HOEY, MichaelNIR18-2
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