One of the beauties of professional golf is that you just never know what might happen.
Take the Senior PGA Championship for example. If anyone had predicted that Roger Chapman of England would win the event would have been locked up in a loony bin.
But guess who won the tourney?
Not only did Roger Chapman win the Senior Tour’s first Major of the year, but he went wire-to-wire, completing a magical week on Sunday with a 1-over 72 but more importantly a two-shot victory over second-place finisher John Cook.
Chapman, who had never won on the Champions Tour, finished at 13 under. He bogeyed three of the last five holes but had enough of a cushion that it didn’t matter.
Cook was at 11 under after a 69. Hale Irwin shot 68 to finish another stroke back.
Before this week, the only noteworthy highlight of Chapman’s pro career was a win in Brazil at a European Tour event in 2000. The European Senior Tour has held only one tournament this year, so Chapman hadn’t played many competitive rounds before coming to Harbor Shores in Michigan.
He became the first player sinceIrwin in 2004 to win the Senior PGA Championship after holding at least a share of the lead following each round. Chapman’s third-round 64 helped him pull away from Cook, and he extended his lead on the front nine Sunday.
Chapman birdied Nos. 4 and 6, and after another birdie on the par-4 seventh, he led by nine strokes.
Cook made birdies on Nos. 9, 13 and 14, and he trailed by only four after Chapman bogeyed the par-4 14th. But Cook missed a birdie putt at No. 15, a par 5 that was the easiest hole on the course during the tournament.
A bogey on No. 17 trimmed Chapman’s lead to three strokes, but he kept his tee shot in the fairway on No. 18. Chapman missed the green with his approach, but so did Cook. On an emotional walk toward the 18th green, Chapman took his hat off to acknowledge the crowd, then eventually gathered himself and calmly finished with another bogey to win by two.
“In the back of your mind you think, ‘Can I blow a five-shot lead?’ The negative man sitting on your shoulder there, telling you all the things that could happen,” Chapman said. “It is difficult, when you haven’t been in that position before.
“I made a couple of mistakes, and then you’re thinking, ‘Well, it’s only four shots now.’ But four shots is a lot.”
His day ended with a big, “Whew!”