A couple of beers and a few glasses of wine was all that was needed to put life back on track for Roger Chapman after suffering the disappointment of having the MCB Seniors Open cruelly snatched from his grasp 12 months ago.
The 2010 Championship
After 17 holes of near-impeccable golf in the final round on the Legend course, the 52-year-old Englishman had all but won the tournament.
Seven birdies and 10 pars had turned a four-stroke deficit to overnight leader David Frost into a two-shot advantage as the 2 men arrived at the 54th and closing hole.
Chapman opted to do what any other player in his position would have done, which was to make par, leaving his South African rival the prospect of manufacturing an unlikely eagle to force a play-off.
The Englishman played his role to perfection. Unfortunately for him, Frost ignored the script, striking 2 magnificent blows and holing a 30-foot putt to take the title battle into extra holes.
The first of these, back along the 18th, ended with a pair of birdie fours but, playing the hole yet again, Chapman’s wayward drive into deep undergrowth opened the door for Frost, who needed no second bidding. For luckless Chapman it was yet another runners-up prize to add to so many he has accumulated over a professional career spanning 30 years.
Despite the disappointment, it took only a few moments for Chapman to compose himself before, in typically sporting fashion, he commented: ‘Fair play to Frosty. He did precisely what was needed and he’s a worthy winner.’
That evening, following the presentations, Chapman and wife Cathy were invited by Frost to join his table for dinner. ‘There were eight of us and it was a really good evening,’ he reflected. ‘We had a few drinks and before the end, the scars had healed.’
Highlights of 2011
Chapman arrives in Mauritius after a satisfactory season on the European Tour where he is 10th in the order-of-merit.
‘I played 10 events on the US Champions Tour in the first part of the year and only joined the Senior Tour in August,’ he said. ‘But I started with three top 10 placings in a row – a second, a third and a sixth. It would have been nice to have won but that’s the way it goes.’
Return to Belle Mare Plage
Chapman has been relishing his return to the Belle Mare Plage:
‘I like the Legend course,’ he says. ‘What Marc Farry and the sponsors have done to turn a relatively minor end-of-year event, albeit a thoroughly enjoyable one, into a top championship tournament is remarkable.
‘It is a perfect venue. You cannot fault the organisation and nothing is too much trouble for the management and the staff. The place is simply top class.’
The MCB Tour Championship offers Chapman a chance to go one better than last year and to end the season with a much sought-after victory.
‘I admit that I am desperate to win,’ he said. But he acknowledges that the challenge could hardly be tougher:
‘This must be the strongest field ever to be assembled on the island,’ he said. ‘The presence of Tom Lehman adds great value to the tournament and it will be interesting to see how he fares. To be honest, almost anyone in the field is capable of winning. If you play well and get into the competition early on, you can put yourself in the running.
‘But if you open with a 73 or 74 while others are posting 67s or 68s or better, it is going to be mighty difficult to get back into contention.’
Article written by Neil Webber, golf journalist