Chapman back on the job, though it doesn't feel like one

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Roger Chapman's dream year on the Champions Tour continues this week with a trip to Endicott, N.Y.
August 15, 2012
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

The busman's holiday is over for Roger Chapman. It's back to the job on the Champions Tour but, let's be frank, for Chapman it's been a pleasure going to work each and every day this year.

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Sure, there have been a few detours but surely nothing that would alter the snapshot of 2012 in any discernible way. In every sense, it's been a career year for the Englishman. Chapman has won two majors on the Champions Tour -- at the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open. Not bad for someone who started with modest goals, like trying to crack the top 20.

The diversions included a sore neck which forced him to withdraw from the Senior British Open two weeks after his U.S. Senior Open triumph. Last week, at the PGA Championship, Chapman missed the cut after getting in by virtue of his victory at the Senior PGA Championship.

And there was that 14-hour waylay at Dulles airport in Washington en route to South Carolina when his clubs and his luggage were misplaced and then lost before finally arriving. There was also a six-hour flight delay. Originally scheduled for a 5 p.m. departure from Dulles to Charleston, the flight was delayed until 11 p.m. Eventually the trip included a "mad dash" -- in Chapman's words -- to Reagan Airport for a flight to Savannah instead, and an unscheduled two-hour drive.

Now it's time for Chapman to transition back to the Champions Tour and this week's Dick's Sporting Goods Open at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y.

Chapman's breakthrough victory came in the Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

"I went to Harbor Shores thinking a top 20 would be quite good," Chapman said last week at Kiawah Island. "All of a sudden, I found myself with a five-shot lead on the Sunday lunchtime. It was enjoyable ... and I managed to get over the line for a magical win for me, my first big tournament."

There was more to come seven weeks later when -- in a scheduling rarity -- the Champions Tour returned to Michigan for a second major championship this year. Chapman capitalized on it. This time, Chapman rallied for a victory at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion.

"On the other side of Michigan," said Chapman, a quick study when it comes to geography of Michigan. "I might buy a place in Michigan."

Here's a bit of good news for Chapman as he prepares for the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. En-Joie is located in Endicott. It's a small village not at all unlike Lake Orion, with all of the same small town nuances. It's cozy, it's friendly. That ought to suit Chapman.

Not that he complains about anything these days. Life is good. He never expected to be playing in another major championship when he teed it up on the Ocean Course.

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"Oh, no, I thought my last Open Championship in 2002 -- that was it," he said. "Obviously I tried to play in a couple more after that, but that was my last Open Championship. I hadn't thought of being at a U.S. PGA or a U.S. Open, which I'll be in next year, so the only one missing is the Masters. I wonder if there's an invitation. Not."

The two major victories tell Chapman all he needs to know about himself and his game. If he needed further validation, it came from fellow Englishman Tony Jacklin.

"We played two rounds together at Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek, and we were walking off the 16th green on the second day, and he comes up to me and said, 'Roger, I want to tell you something.'

"I thought, 'Oh, God, what have I done wrong?' He said a few words to me, and those words were great encouragement, and it gives you a real big lift. He basically said, you're a really good player, you can make lots of money on the (Champions) Tour, go out and do it. Coming from somebody as high standing in the game just gives you another boost.

"Senior golf gives you a new lease of life, and you try and take every opportunity you can, and fortunately those two I did."

Chapman has cashed in on his second chance. The prize money for his two major victories totaled $878,000. In seven starts overall, he has won just under a million dollars -- $948,914 -- and is proving Jacklin correct. Chapman can make a lot of money on the Champions Tour.

Chapman said the injury that forced him out of the Senior British Open has responded to treatment.

"The neck is a lot better," he said. "I had to pull out of the Senior Open on the Friday morning with a very, very stiff neck, and it wasn't fixed until the following Thursday. I hadn't hit balls for a whole week, so touch wood, it's OK."

Champions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. He can be reached at [golfstix@aol.com]

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