Roger Chapman makes name for himself

Roger Chapman makes name for himself

Published Jul. 15, 2012 7:11 p.m. ET

LAKE ORION, Mich. — On a star-studded leaderboard, it was the no-name who took home the trophy at the US Senior Open on Sunday.

Roger Chapman, a journeyman player on the European Tour during his younger days, shot a 4-under 66 at Indianwood Golf and Country Club to win his second seniors major in two months. In May, he won the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor, Mich., joining Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as the only players to win both tournaments in the same year.

"To be in the company of three great players like that is a huge, huge honor," Chapman said. "This just really hasn't sunk it yet."

Chapman started the day four shots behind Bernhard Langer and was also battling such former PGA stars as Corey Pavin, Fred Funk, Tom Lehman and John Cook, but he outdueled all of them on a hot, windy day at Indianwood.

Many observers expected Langer to run away with the tournament, but he double-bogeyed the second hole and finished with a 2-over 72.

"Obviously, every time you make a double bogey, it's not much fun, but I knew there was a lot of golf left and I was still in the lead," Langer said. "If I shoot under par from that point on, I'll still be in good shape, but I couldn't make a putt. The chances I had, I either left short or misread or whatever. It just wouldn't go in."

Chapman wasn't sure what Langer had done, but a quick glance at the scoreboard showed him that he suddenly had an opportunity for a second improbable victory.

"I saw that Bernhard had dropped two shots in the first two holes, so suddenly he was at 8-under and I was at 7-under," he said. "That's when I knew that this was going to be a very exciting finish with a lot of great players on the leaderboard."

While others struggled with the baked course, Chapman didn't make a bogey until the 16th hole, but he immediately redeemed himself with a birdie on 17.

After Chapman hit a wayward tee shot on the 18th green, it left Lehman as the last man on the course with a chance to force a playoff. To do it, though, Lehman would have needed to sink an undulating, 25-foot putt on 18, then hope Chapman couldn't save par.

It didn't happen. Lehman had to work his putt over a large mound and left it a few feet short. Chapman then made it a moot point by hitting a solid second shot to leave him with an easy 2-putt for the victory.

"I couldn't believe that my second shot went past the hole — I thought I was going to leave myself a 12-foot uphill putt for birdie," Lehman said. "I hit it further than I thought I could and left myself a putt that broke 10 feet over a hill."

Despite Chapman's less-than-spectacular career before the last eight weeks, his two major titles didn't surprise Lehman.

"I've competed with Roger in Europe, and he's a very good player," he said. "He looks like he is capable of winning any time, and today he put forth a brilliant effort on a very difficult day."

Chapman has lived a globetrotting life: He was born in Kenya, was raised in England and claimed his only European Tour victory in, of all places, Brazil. One of the few places that he'd never been was Michigan, but now the state has changed his career.

"I love it here, that's for sure," Chapman said after dropping the advertising slogan "Pure Michigan" into his acceptance speech. "I can't explain it, but this is a great place. The course this week, with the style of the place and the humps and hillocks, it reminds me a lot of being home in Scotland. That helped me a lot."

Chapman wiped away tears as he walked off the 18th green and embraced his wife, Cathy, who wasn't there to witness his victory in Benton Harbor.

"I wanted to prove to people that the PGA wasn't a one-off event," Chapman said. "I can't put my finger on what has happened — why I won in Benton Harbor and why I won here, but it was a lot of fun, especially with Cathy here. We didn't know that there would ever been a first time, so we certainly didn't know there would be a second time this soon. It was huge for her to be here this time."

Now Champman heads back across the ocean to play the British Senior Open at Turnberry in Scotland.

A win there, and he'll never hear the word "journeyman" again.