Can Chapman Do it Again?

Roger Chapman burst onto the international golf scene last year when he won the Senior PGA Championship in May and, not two months later, captured the U.S. Senior Open. Prior to those major victories on the Champions Tour, the Englishman's only title was something called the European Tour's Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.

Those two wins propelled Chapman, now 54, into the spotlight, a place he handled with wit, aplomb and grace.

His 2013 hasn't been so meteoric. In 13 events, he's logged six top-25 finishes - and one top-10 - in 13 starts, earning $251,875. His average performance this season is due, in part, to an injured shoulder, which is now healed.

Despite his mediocre record in 2013, Chapman excels on difficult courses and that certainly defines the site of this week's U.S. Senior Open, Omaha Country Club.

The historic Nebraska course will play to a par 70 and be stretched to just over 6,700 yards for the seniors. Chapman said on Tuesday that accuracy will be the key at Omaha CC during the four rounds of the U.S. Senior Open.

"If I can drive the ball - if anybody can drive the ball on the fairway this week, they'll be in a position to win the event," he told reporters. "Went out today and, touch wood, didn't miss one. It feels better. The confidence is coming."

Here's what else Chapman had to say to the media during his sit-down two days prior to the event, where he'll be the defending champion.

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon again. I would like to welcome Roger Chapman here to the Media Center. Roger, of course, is our defending champion this year, winning with a 10 under par, 270 score at Indianwood last year, a two stroke victory over Fred Funk, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer, and Tom Lehman. One other victory on the Champions Tour a little bit earlier that year, another major, the Senior PGA Championship. So two victories on the Champions Tour, both have been major championship victories. What is it about these big events that get it going for you, these four round events that really get your juices flowing?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I think it's - I played at the Open Championship sort of 17 times. I think playing in that big tournament and playing in Europe for most of my career, they were all four rounders, and you felt that you were - three rounds is like a sprint, but four rounds is a bit of a marathon, and I think it's, touch wood, the better player comes through over four rounds. Being in a big tournament like this, you've got 150,000 people coming through the gate, it just sort of gets your juices flowing and makes it a special event.

MODERATOR: Now, you played here, you said, about eight weeks ago. You came back today and played nine holes. How does the course look different from when you were here two months ago?

ROGER CHAPMAN: When I played, there was no leaves on the trees. It looked fairly open. And now I came back today, and I thought, wow, that's a bit it's closed up a bit. The leaves are out, but the course is in fantastic condition. Credit to the superintendent. I don't think the Spring was particularly kind to them. They've got the course in magnificent condition. The rough's up a little bit, and it's a true test.

MODERATOR: Let's open it up.

Q. Roger, what sort of pressure comes with being a defending champion at the Senior Open level?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I think it's pressure that you put on yourself. You're defending champion. I was quite nervous at Bellerive Country Club for the U.S. PGA, so hopefully I've learned from that. When they announce you as 2012 champion, you think, whoa, wait a minute. But as the expectation level for your own player, yourself goes up a bit, you don't want to make any mistakes. You want to do this, you don't want to do that. So it just puts a little bit of added pressure on you. I'll take it.

Q. Roger, this is the first time the Tour's probably played in this much heat this year. How have you handled the heat? Are you a good heat player, or does it get to you?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Not too bad. In Europe, we played in Singapore and Malaysia, and the humidity level is higher there than here. So I've had a bit of experience. I was at Palm Springs on Saturday. I was practicing away in sort of 105 degrees, but that's a dry heat. Yeah, it's not too bad. I don't perspire much. There might be a few others that will. I try and keep myself reasonably fit, and I think that helps as well.

Q. How about your game in the past two months since we saw you? How's it been?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I was just saying that I've been sort of playing at 80 percent. Some good tournaments. I've been getting into positions, but I know in the back of my mind that I haven't been swinging particularly well. So some of the results may have flattered me a bit. I had three events in a row that I was out last on the Champions Tour. It sort of never converted. But I felt that I'd sort of got there by hook or crook, just grinding away, and then things don't happen on the last day. I think that's because you're not particularly happy with the way the swing's going, and it sort of may break down under a little bit of pressure. But touch wood, been working on the game, and things are happening. So we'll see how it goes.

Q. What were you working on today on the range? Colin said he was going to go over and talk to you, but he saw your coach.

ROGER CHAPMAN: I felt I was getting a bit underneath myself, especially with the long stuff, the long irons and the woods. I was hitting it left, hitting it right. I feel now that I'm a bit more on top of the ball and squeezing it a bit more. I feel happy with it anyway.

Q. A year ago, you became the fourth player to win the two oldest championships in the same year, joining Irwin, Nicklaus, and Player. With the name Chapman sitting in there for you better in the past year, is that something you're more comfortable with knowing that you're in that company?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah, I've got used to it. When somebody said that stat, I thought, wow, we've all heard of these three guys, but nobody's heard of me. So it took a bit of getting used to. It's a nice stat to have. I've loved every minute of every day of being U.S. PGA champion and the U.S. Open champion. You just - you want more of it. It's a wonderful feeling. Thanks to the USGA and the PGA of America, they've made my life so good over the last 12 months. It's been wonderful.

Q. Often, when a sportsman accomplishes something along those lines and represents the British Empire in such a positive fashion, you'll get, say, an invitation to the royal box at Wimbledon. Did you and Kathy get a chance to take it in there? Or have you even been home to accept it?

ROGER CHAPMAN: We haven't been home. We've been here since April the 9th. We're going home Monday night. Look forward to seeing the boys and the house, seeing if it's in one place. We went to the Royal Ascot last year, we were in the royal enclosure. We could see the queen come along. She's only 5 foot. She's very small. But I was pleased to see she had a winner at Royal Ascot this year. Pleased for her.

Q. You mentioned you've been playing, you felt, at about 80 percent for the past couple of months. Where does that last 20 percent come for you to be able to repeat this weekend?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I mean, if I get my driving going, that's the trouble I've had this year. If I can drive the ball - if anybody can drive the ball on the fairway this week, they'll be in a position to win the event. Went out today and, touch wood, didn't miss one. It feels better. The confidence is coming.

Q. Roger, what score would you take this week?

ROGER CHAPMAN: That's a difficult one. I predicted sort of 10 under last year, and I was spot on. It's a tough one. You hear people coming in, it's a tough course. My inkling is it may get to double digits, but I would take 6 or 7 under and not go out.

Q. Roger, Colin Montgomerie was in here earlier talking about the joys of turning 50 and getting to play with you guys. What are your expectations maybe for him as he moves forward, especially on the Champions Tour, I guess?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I'm sure he'll fit in really well. I mean, he's a great player. The first tournament that he had was at Pittsburgh, and I think he finished top ten. So he's got the game still. I mean, he's been playing on the main tour in Europe and doing okay for the young lad. But I think you get to 50, and it's like a new lease on life. All of a sudden, you're given a second chance to play the game that you've always played, and you want to take it - grasp it with both hands. I think he will do that. I'm not sure what his schedule is and how many he's going to play over here, but judging by his form at Pittsburgh, he played pretty good.

Q. Do you find that crowds recognize you more these days than maybe your past times out here?

ROGER CHAPMAN: Yeah, people come up to me in the street at home. It's a nice feeling, but I've always been shied away from that. I don't like the sort of limelight. Some people do. Some people don't. I'm quite happy to ride off into the sunset and go and fish and get some piece and quiet. This week people have been coming up to me and autographs here, there, and everywhere. It's great. Once I go home, I almost like the peace and quiet.

Q. In most sports, athletes will say that the second one is almost more difficult than the first. Do you view it that way, or is there a monkey off your back heading into this weekend?

ROGER CHAPMAN: That's a good question. This time last year at Indianwood, I was playing well. I just felt great for the week. The opportunity came along, and I took it whereas maybe, if I hadn't have won the U.S. PGA, that may have gone begging as well. So I think the win at Benton Harbor gave me the belief that I can stay out with these guys and beat them in big tournaments.

Q. Roger, you had a very successful European tour career. Didn't win a lot. But I think 19 out of 21 years, you were in the top 100 of the Order of Merit, had a bunch of runner up finishes. Finally broke through in 2000 on your 472nd start, and then you come over here, playing on the Champions Tour, and you win twice. What has really given you that confidence to win out here and win some major events?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I think playing with the guys that came over for The Open Championship and playing with them, and I was used to playing with them. And then I played - I got a card, No.6 card in 2010, the '11 year. Again, playing with the guys, getting used to them, playing with them week in and week out. They make you feel part of this Tour. I have to tell you, they've been very good to me, and they've been special people. Very friendly, no animosity or anything. I think they just almost give you the belief that you should be here, and that helps your game. It's nice.

Q. Can you talk to us a little bit about when you came out on the Champions Tour, your expectations and Colin Montgomerie's a little bit different. You talked about the friendships that you develop, and it was three years before you broke through here. Can you explain that, what your life was like early when you qualified for the over 50 circuit and then the breakthrough last year. And also, one thing that goes along with the U.S. Senior Open Championship is an invitation to the U.S. Open. You, I thought, would be perfect for Merion. I was curious why you didn't play at Merion until you explained it to me, and your commitment to this Championship.

ROGER CHAPMAN: Well, it was not playing at Merion. I have an ongoing shoulder injury. In - what are we, 2012? Started about the end of 2011, and Doug Speak, one of the physios, he's been working on it, and I just have to monitor it. I have to manage it. If I'd have played Merion, it would have come here, and it would be like six weeks in a row. I couldn't do that on the main Tour, play six weeks in a row. I just felt that my life was on the Champions Tour and playing senior golf. It was a tough, tough decision, let me tell you, not to play the U.S. Open and maybe let the USGA down a bit. But I have to look after my injury, and look at Tiger Woods on the 1st hole, in that rough he tweaked his elbow, whatever he did, and he's been out for three or four weeks. That was in the back of my mind. I know that at the U.S. Open the rough is quite high, and if I had had an injury there, you know, made it worse, then all of a sudden, I'm not playing this one. I'm not playing the Senior Open Championship, and that was my thought process for that.

Q. Even if you hadn't had an injury at Merion, this would have been the sixth of six weeks in a row, so how prepared could you have been for a championship defense?

ROGER CHAPMAN: I would have been tired, very tired. Four of those are majors. They're all four rounders. So it would have taken its toll. And then as I said, when I was on the main tour, I never did more than four weeks in a row, and then you were younger and fitter. So you just have to - you know, you just have to look after yourself these days, if you've only got a short window. You've only got maybe 10 years at this level whereas you had 20 years at European level on the main tour. You just have to monitor it, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet. There we go.

MODERATOR: Very good. Roger Chapman, thank you very much. You'll be teeing off at 1:37, playing with Fred Couples and Paul Simpson on Thursday. We wish you the best of luck. Hope to see you here again.


The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.

Story Options

Print this Story