Senior PGA: Chapman ready to defend his title
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TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. — The moment Roger Chapman has waited for all his life has arrived. He’s happy the week is finally here and so is his wife, Cathy.
“The two weeks before (this week),” Chapman conceded, “I was, if you asked Cathy, a bit grumpy.”
Thirty-two years after he turned professional, Chapman enjoyed the season he always thought he was capable of — two major titles in 2012, the Senior PGA and U.S. Senior Open, in the brief span of six weeks. This is what he had in mind following an amateur career in which he won the English Amateur and played in the Walker Cup, where he was part of two matches on the same day that resulted in wins over Hal Sutton.
“I had a couple of weeks off in Scottsdale and I every moment that I had I was thinking of this week,” Chapman said Wednesday on the eve of the start of his Senior PGA Championship defense. “I talked about it last night at the (Champions) dinner. I keep using the word ‘special,’ but it was an incredible year that I have had. It’s difficult to put into words, but sometimes you just say that dreams do come true. You keep knocking on the door and something good happens. Those two tournaments last year were the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my golfing career, by far.”
By Chapman’s own admission, he went into last year’s Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., with no expectations. “Maybe a top-20 would have sufficed,” he said. “I sort of snuck in under the radar. I didn’t have to do anything, just get out on the golf course.”
But he led after 18 holes, then after 36 and again through 54, and early on Sunday afternoon there was an astonishing gap of nine strokes that separated him and the rest of the field. Though the margin at the finish line had been reduced to two, he knew driving a ball into the water at the 14th, and a three-putt at No. 17, would not be fatal wounds.
But on Thursday morning at 8:45, when he leads his pairing off the first tee at a Bellerive Country Club that has proved to be quite adept at defending itself in one U.S. Open and one PGA Championship, he’ll undoubtedly be among the group of favorites that is a bit compact, thanks to the absence of some of the Champions Tour’s best players. David Frost and Tom Lehman decided to play in this week’s PGA Tour event and Fred Couples and John Cook begged out because of injuries.
“Obviously I want to put in a good defense of the title,” Chapman said. “Yeah, I’ve raised the bar (of my own expectations). All of a sudden you get the attention of being defending champion and that puts a little more pressure on you. . . . The two weeks in Scottsdale, I was thinking about it a lot more than I am now. Now I’m out on the golf course. I’m where I know what I’m doing.”