Roger Chapman is living proof perseverance pays off. At age 53, Chapman is enjoying his best season as a professional after 30 years of frustration.
The Englishman won just once in 618 starts on the European Tour. After 62 tournaments on the over 50 circuit, Chapman had won two senior majors. He began with the U.S. Senior PGA Championship at Harbour Shores Golf Club in Michigan in May, winning by two shots. He added the U.S. Senior US Open title in July with three 68s and a closing 66 to overhaul Bernhard Langer.
The affable Englishman was as surprised by his performance this summer as everyone else. It took him a while to get to the bottom of the “Why now?” question, but he thinks he knows why he proudly holds two senior majors.
“I’ve been asked the question a lot, and I’ve thought about it a lot,” Chapman said. “I think it comes down to a simple case of belief. I played the third round of the U.S. Senior PGA Championship with John Cook and Hale Irwin and I shot 64. That was a huge boost for my confidence, because I proved to myself that I could play with two of their best players and hold my own.”
Chapman turned pro at the end of 1981 with a good amateur record. He had won the English Amateur that year, and played in the Walker Cup. “I turned pro with high expectations,” he admitted. “I thought it wouldn’t take long for me to win. Maybe the longer my winless streak went on the more I started to question my self-belief.”
He was pretty much a permanent fixture on the European Tour between 1982-2004. During that time he had 43 top 10s, including six seconds, five thirds but just the one victory. Chapman’s only taste of success came in 2000 when he defeated Padraig Harrington in Brazil to win the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.
In 1985 he led the European Masters after 54 holes, but faltered in the final round and lost to Craig Stadler. Chapman says that was a turning point in his career. “I believe if I had won that tournament, things would have panned out a lot different. I would have gone on and won more titles.”
He finished on the regular tour in 2006 and spent 18 months as a European Tour referee. “Those three years before I turned 50 were important. I managed to clear my mind, get rid of some cobwebs and came out with renewed enthusiasm and belief.”
Now he’s making up for lost time. “I still love the game. I still love the competition. I’m going to give it my all for the next five or six years. It’s a fantastic time for me. I mean what other sport gives you a second chance at age 50?”
The Englishman intends to make the most of his second time around.