Chapman joins Major Club with US Senior PGA victory

27/05/2012 23:12:52
Roger Chapman with the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy after winning the US Senior PGA  (Getty Images)
Roger Chapman with the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy after winning the US Senior PGA (Getty Images)

Roger Chapman added his name to the history books with a two-stroke victory in the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores.

Chapman takes his place alongside the golfing greats as he joins the illustrious club of Major Champions by winning the first Senior Major of the season.

And he will forever hold a place in the annals of the game as the first Englishman to win the Senior PGA Championship, the first European to win this Championship since Jock Hutchison in 1947, and only the seventh international player to capture the title.

A closing one over par 72 for a 13 under par total of 271 gave him a two stroke margin of victory over American John Cook with Hale Irwin a further shot back followed by Sandy Lyle, Peter Senior, David Frost, Bernhard Langer and Joe Daley tied at nine under par.

“It's the greatest day of my professional career,” he said. “No question about that.  It was hard work in the end, and your mind just starts to wander a bit.  And I was thinking of George (his late coach) 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.”

Glancing at the huge trophy next to him and the names engraved on this incredible piece of silverware, he said: “It's incredible.  You have 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 the best feeling in the world.  This is what we strive for, this is what we practice and work hard for.”

The 53 year old Englishman’s victory was built on a stunning third round of 64 and with ten holes to play he was eight strokes clear. And despite the best efforts of the chasing pack, who produced some blistering low scores such as the 62 of Kenny Perry, 63 of Senior and 64 of Lyle, Chapman was not to be denied the greatest victory of his career. He had only won once previously on The European Tour in the Brazil 500 Years Rio de Janiero Open.

“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 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.”

His success was all the more surprising as it was only his second event of the season.

Holding a five stroke lead overnight Chapman, sponsored by Speedy Services – the new title sponsors of the Wales Senior Open, extended his lead to eight with birdies at the fourth, sixth and seventh holes.

Dropped shots at the ninth and 14th followed before two bogeys to finish but such was the lead he ha established they did not matter.

Lyle, a two-time Major Champion and the newest member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, led the applause for Chapman.

The Scot said: “First of all, he's lost his coach just recently due to illness and I think that's been a great motivation for him. It's been wonderful for him to pull it off this week.  He's been a great player for many years, but maybe under the radar a little bit.  And, if you look at his record, he hasn't achieved a massive amount of tournament wins, but he's always been a good player.

“And I think that since he's turned 50 he's kept himself pretty healthy and he's still a very powerful player. It's a fantastic achievement."