Mich. – Roger Chapman was born in Kenya and lives in England, but he may want
to consider retiring to Michigan.
Chapman, 53, won
the 33rd U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club on Sunday, just
seven weeks after winning the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor, Mich.
joked Chapman when asked when he would be purchasing a home in the state that
he had never visited before winning the Senior PGA.
On Friday, given
the way scores were trending low, Chapman, sitting at 4 under for the
championship, said he would take his chances if he were to shoot two rounds of
67 on the weekend.
consecutive rounds of 68, Chapman matched Sunday’s
low round of 66 to finish at 10-under-par 270 – right on his prophetic number,
to seal a two-stroke victory.
“I felt if I
could get to double digits, you might have a sniff because it was quite breezy
out there at times,” said Chapman, who won $500,000 and the Francis Ouimet
looked otherworldly during a third-round 64 that included 28 putts and 17
greens hit in regulation to open a four-stroke lead, shot a 2-over 72 to finish
at 8-under 272 along with Fred Funk (3-under 67), Tom Lehman (68) and Corey
Pavin (68). John Cook
(66) and John
Huston (70) finished tied for
sixth at 6-under 274.
the Senior Open and Senior PGA, Chapman joins Gary Player (1987), Jack Nicklaus
(1991) and Hale Irwin (1998) as the only players to have won both in the same
“To be in
Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Hale Irwin's footsteps is a true honor,” Chapman
Chapman was one of five players – with Huston, Lehman, Pavin and Tom Pernice Jr. – who were
Langer’s closest pursuers starting the fourth round.
playing with Langer in the final grouping, dropped quickly with a double
bogey-bogey start en route to a 75. Huston’s pursuit ended with consecutive
double bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes.
But the gap on
Langer closed quickly.
missed just four greens in his first 54 holes, made double bogey on the second
hole to slip back to 8 under, one shot ahead of Huston, Lehman and Chapman.
“I tried to
not let it bother me too much,” Langer said. “Obviously, every time you make a
double bogey, it's not much fun, but I knew there was a lot of golf left and I
was still in the lead. If I shoot under par from that point on, I'll still be
in good shape.”
The scent of
the lead permeated deeper down to Funk, who had gotten to 6 under.
“It was fun
to get in the mix,” he said. “I didn't really expect Bernhard to come
backwards. I saw he was 2 over pretty early, I think after his first four. Well, now we got a game on.”
birdied the second to reach 7 under, tied Langer when he birdied the 407-yard,
par-4 eighth. Langer, playing in the grouping behind
Chapman, missed an 8-footer on the seventh and Chapman
was suddenly alone in the lead.
happened before, and it will happen again,” Langer said. “So I knew that. My goal
was to shoot under par. I said yesterday, if I shoot 1 or 2 under, it will be
hard for the other guys to catch me, and I didn't do that.”
At the 386-yard,
par-4 11th, Chapman hit his 93-yard approach to 8 feet above the hole and
made the straight birdie putt. His lead was now two strokes.
his win two months ago in western Michigan,
Chapman wavered little.
“I just kept
saying to myself, look, you've done this before,” he said. “I was actually
surprised and enjoying it because I was in the mix again, which was good.
“I wanted to
prove to myself and to other people that Benton Harbor wasn't a one‑off event.
That was in the back of my mind also.”
executed a nifty up-and-down from the bunker to save par on the 480-yard, par-4
12th, and two holes later extended his lead to three strokes with a 10-foot birdie
454-yard, par-4 16th, Chapman drove into the left rough and then found the right
greenside rough on his approach. His pitch went past 8 feet. Chapman
watched as Pavin made his this straight-in birdie putt to reach 8 under and
excited the crowd with a first pump. Chapman left
his par attempt on the left edge of the hole and the advantage had shrunk to a
later, Chapman hit a “career shot,” a 5-iron to
within 6 inches
on the par-3 17th that led to a birdie to reach 10 under and a two-stroke lead
“I was real
pleased with the way I finished, birdieing 14, 15, 16, to put some pressure on Roger, who came through with a beautiful shot on 17,” Pavin said. “You can't
say much about it besides it was just a great shot at just the right time.”
The events of
the past couple of months have caught Chapman by surprise.
By his own admission,
he’s had a “journeyman” career – if not life.
was born in Nakuru, Kenya, when his dad worked for the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Chapmans moved to England in
the early 1960s and Roger took up golf at age 10. He turned professional in
1981, after a Great Britain
and Ireland Walker Cup appearance in which he defeated Hal Sutton
in foursomes and singles on the second day of a 7-5 loss.
In more than 600 European Tour starts, he won just once –
defeating Padraig Harrington in a playoff at the 2000 Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500
Years Open. Upon leaving the European Tour in 2006, he was a European Senior
Tour Rules official for a time before turning 50.
And now this.
“It hasn't sunk in yet, but very, very special,” he said.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based
freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA websites.