ROGER CHAPMAN arrived at the 73rd Senior PGA Championship a virtual unknown but now joins some of golf’s biggest names as a senior major champion.
The 53-year-old Englishman took the 2012 title by two strokes after leading comfortably throughout the final round at the Harbour Shores course on Lake Michigan.
Chapman led wire to wire and started the final round with a five stroke buffer. His closing 1-over 72 was his worst of the tournament but finishing on 13-under was too much for second placegetter John Cook (69) on 11-under and Hale Irwin (68) a stroke further back.
The two big finishers on the day were Kenny Perry who shot a tournament record 62 and Australia’s Peter Senior who finished with a 63.
Senior played the last 10 holes in a sizzling 8-under to finish the tournament on 9-under tied for fourth along with Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, David Frost and American Joe Daley.
Chapman may have been an “unknown” before – he’s only had one professional start previously this year which was the recent European Senior Tour event in Spain – but joins some hallowed names like recent winners of this event Tom Watson and Tom Lehrman and going back to golfing royalty like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino and Australia’s Peter Thomson.
“It’s the greatest day of my professional career,” Chapman said. “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 [George Will a former Ryder Cup player who was his mentor as a teenager] all the way around. What he would be thinking and just lost my focus a bit.”
Sitting next to the trophy containing all those names and with the lifetime exemptions and other doors that would now be open to him starting to sink in, Chapman was incredulous.
“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,” he said.
“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. Fifty three years old, I just won my biggest check of my career. So I’m very happy.”2012 Senior PGA Championship Final Results