Chapman finding a Michigan major to his liking again

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Roger Chapman won a Champions Tour major in Michigan in May and is contending in another in July.
July 13, 2012
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

LAKE ORION, Mich. -- Welcome back to Michigan, Roger Chapman.

There are some really nice homes available in the mitten state these days. Why don't you find a place, settle in and stay awhile?


Chapman didn't dismiss the notion. He smiled and said, "It's good here, isn't it? I love it. I feel comfortable here and everybody makes you feel comfortable."

Why not? Chapman is having the time of his life these days -- in Michigan. Out of nowhere, the European Tour veteran won the Senior PGA Championship in May on the west side of the state, in Benton Harbor. Now he's in contention again at the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club, some 40 miles north of Detroit.

Chapman shot a second 2-under 68 in Friday's second round and is a large group at 136 as the field for the fourth of five senior major championships bunched up in the heat and humidity.

Indianwood's reputation in these parts is as a links-style course. And what part of that wouldn't suit an Englishman?

"I'm quite happy with it," Chapman said. "My first impression, apart from the trees, was a type of linksy place. So having grown up on sort of Royal St. Georges, Royal St. Paul, Little Stan, those courses down there on the South Coast, yes, it's nice. It also reminded me of a golf course that Nick Faldo designed in Berlin. Very similar, sort of humps and hillocks and wispy grass, has that look."

Chapman's game has a certain undeniable look these days, too. It's solid.

"It's pretty close now," he said. "I went off the boil a bit after Benton Harbor, which is maybe understandable. Sort of getting used to the status of 'I'm a senior major winner', but it's slowly and surely coming back. I feel very comfortable driving the ball this week, and that's what I did at Benton Harbor really well. Everybody said at the start of the week if anybody drives the ball really well, then they'll score well."

The Old Course at Indianwood isn't long and the fairways aren't alarming narrow. The challenge is to fit the tee ball into the proper angles and on the correct lines.

"Yes, the angle," said Tom Lehman, who is in the group at 4 under after a second-round 66. "They (the fairways) move, so there's always seemingly one side where you have a short right-field fence or a short left-field fence, so to speak, where you could go through easily on one side or the other. Very few are just a bowling alley going straight down away from you. For that reason, picking the right club is important. If you want to kind of play a little bit safer, you hit a 3-wood and you can kind of get a little more room on one side or the other. If you hit the driver, you've got to hit a perfect line. At least that's my take on the whole thing. There's a slope to them as well in spots."

That difficulty factor has contributed to a good number of players firing and falling back. It happened again Friday. Fred Funk got it to 7 under before shooting 71 and finishing at 2-under 138. Corey Pavin reached 5 under before a bogey at the 18th. Lehman, too, made bogey at the closing hole.

"I think it's the difficulty of the golf course," Chapman said. "Nobody can get away from anybody. People are not making mistakes. They're not making many birdies. They're sort of hanging around ... 2 under, 1 under, level par, 1 over. And anybody that's still to shoot maybe 66-66 at the weekend from the back of the field has got a chance. I guess I'd probably take a couple of 67s myself and see what happens. With the severity of the course and the driving, I don't think anybody's really going to get away from us. I think Sunday afternoon could be quite exciting."

Pavin won the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock. He knows all about USGA setups.

"Historically, what you see at USGA events and most major championships is you see fairly good scores the first round or second round, and then it starts getting more and more difficult," Pavin said. "I'm not really sure exactly why, but maybe the course just plays harder and harder. It gets set up and gets a little firmer. Typically, that's what happens.

"The guy shoots 4 or 5 under the first round, and it's hard to follow it up again on a golf course like this. If you shoot even or something like that, it's still a very good score. It's hard to continue on that pace. It's a hard golf course. It's tricky. There are some places you don't want to be out there, and if you hit an iron shot in a bad spot, you're going to make a bogey. If you try to be a hero, you're going to make a double bogey. You've got to be careful out there."