Chapman went from journeyman to champion in 2012
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A lot more people in Roger Chapman’s hometown know who he is nowadays. That’s what happens when a guy wins a couple majors on the Champions Tour.
Chapman would have been best described as a journeyman on the European Tour before he broke through last year with wins at the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open.
“It’s been an enormous change in my life,” the 54-year-old Englishman said Monday at the media day for the 2013 U.S. Senior Open that will be played in Omaha this summer. “I’m getting recognized in the street in my local town. I went to the Ascott races, and people were coming up to me and offering congratulations on the wins.”
Chapman’s 2012 campaign allowed him to make his first appearance in the Masters last month, and he’ll play for the first time in the U.S. Open at Merion in June. He also was made an honorary lifetime member of the European tour.
Before coming back to Omaha to defend his U.S. Senior Open title, Chapman will try to win a second straight Senior PGA Championship in St. Louis in three weeks.
The U.S. Senior Open is July 11-14 at the 6,711-yard, par-70 Omaha Country Club. The course was designed in 1925 on rolling farmland on the north side of Omaha. It was redesigned in 1951 and had a major renovation done in 2005.
“My first impression driving up the driveway is that it looks like everything you want as a major championship venue,” Chapman said.
Tournament officials announced Monday that Fred Couples has committed to play in Omaha and that Colin Montgomery, who becomes eligible for the Champions tour in June, will make his debut here.
Chapman said he has played “average” golf so far this year. He has played eight tournaments and hasn’t missed a cut. His best finish is a tie for 10th at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, and he has four top-25 finishes.
He tied for 31st this past weekend in the Insperity Championship at The Woodlands, Texas, and is 49th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
“If I was to put a percentage on it — 75 or 80 percent,” Chapman said of his play. “I’ve been struggling with the driver a bit these last couple weeks.”
He said he took a putting lesson from Dave Stockton last week in Houston.
Last year, Chapman became the first Englishman to win a USGA championship since Tony Jacklin won the 1970 U.S. Open. He held off Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, Fred Funk and Bernhard Langer to win the Senior Open.
He joined Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Hale Irwin as the only players to win a U.S. Senior Open and Senior PGA Championship in the same year.
Chapman made more money in 12 Champions Tour events in 2012 ($1.02 million) than in the previous four years playing on the European senior circuit combined.
Chapman said a new fitness regimen was the key to his success last year. He lost more than 20 pounds in six months to get down to 184.
He said he didn’t set high goals for 2012, but when he found himself in the lead after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship, he had to re-assess. The confidence he gained from winning helped him when he had to come back from four shots down after three rounds to win the U.S. Senior Open.
“2012 was a very special year,” he said, with the Senior Open trophy in front of him on the dais. “Just to have that trophy on my dining room table at home is such an honor.”