It took Roger Chapman 19 years and 472 starts to get his first European Tour win. Now, more than 12 years after beating Padraig Harrington in a play-off to win the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open, the Englishman has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his historic Senior Major Championship double during a fairytale 2012 season.
In May, Chapman became the first Englishman to win the US Senior PGA Championship – and the first European since Jock Hutchison in 1947 – courtesy of a two stroke victory at Harbor Shores in Michigan.
He returned to the same American state in July and sealed an extraordinary double by capturing the US Senior Open at Indianwood Golf and Country Club, becoming only the fourth player following Gary Player (1987), Jack Nicklaus (1991) and Hale Irwin (1998) to capture both titles in the same season.
The 53 year old received the John Jacobs Trophy in Mauritius earlier this month for winning the 2012 European Senior Tour Order of Merit, and he was bestowed with yet another award when George O’Grady, The European Tour’s Chief Executive, announced that he would become the 45th player to receive Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour, joining Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Christy O’Connor as well as the great names in the history of the game.
Chapman said: “This season has been an absolute dream for me, winning two Senior Majors and then then Senior Tour Order of Merit, so I am extremely proud to have now also been given Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour.
“It is an honour which was totally unexpected and I am very grateful to George and everyone at the Tour for their support and for giving me this recognition. I’m very proud of my career on The European Tour, certainly for its longevity, but to win two Senior Majors and the John Jacobs Trophy in the same season really is a Cinderella story.
“What was particularly memorable was having my wife Cathy by the 18th green when I won at Indianwood. She has always been my biggest supporter and afterwards she said to me: ‘I told you you could do it, just believe in yourself.’ It was so special having her there.”
After a superb amateur career, Chapman turned professional in 1981 and played in 619 European Tour events, the third most number of appearances in The European Tour’s history appearance behind Sam Torrance (706) and Barry Lane (682).
After finishing runner up on six occasions, he eventually made his breakthrough in his 472nd European Tour event, defeating future three-time Major champion Harrington in a play-off to win the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open.
He also served on the European Tour’s Board of Directors from 2004 to 2009, and briefly worked as a Rules Official before joining the Senior Tour in 2009.
O’Grady presented Chapman with his Honorary Life Membership during The European Tour’s Golfer of the Year Luncheon in London on Tuesday, where Rory McIlroy was announced as the recipient of the main award.
O’Grady said: “It was the unanimous wish of the Tournament Committee that Roger be awarded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour. Roger has been a magnificent ambassador and servant of The European Tour, having played in 619 Tour events, crowned by his superb achievement in becoming the first Member to win both the US Senior PGA Championship and the US Open.
“When you consider that Roger is only the fourth player to win both titles in the same season, and the other three are Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin, it illustrates the magnitude of his accomplishment.”