It's a perk for the defending U.S. Senior Open golf champion showing up for media day — he's able to play the course.
“It's quite nice to play it before everybody else does,” Roger Chapman said Monday, “not that you have an advantage over them but in that you certainly got a bit more knowledge.”
Chapman professed he liked what he saw of Omaha Country Club. Even the course's challenging greens.
If the sponsoring United States Golf Association brings the greens to usual championship quickness, he said after playing the course for the first time, “there will be some horror stories.”
Chapman studied up on the course prior to his media-day visit Monday. He watched the promotional video for the July 11 to 14 championship, the first USGA open held in Nebraska, and went through the hole-by-hole tour on the club's website.
“Nothing really surprised me when I saw it here,'' he said.
A Kenya-born Englishman who turned 54 last week, Chapman won two of the five major championships last year for male golfers 50 and over. His first Champions Tour victory was at the Senior PGA Championship last May.
Part of his turnaround — he had been winless for a dozen years and left pro golf for two to be a rules official on the European PGA Tour — stems from a fitness program that saw him drop 20 pounds at the start of the 2012 season.
Chapman said he can tell that conditioning will be a factor during tournament week on the hilly Omaha Country Club course.
“You have to be fit,'' he said. “Caddies are going to be tired at the end of the week.”
As he played the course with club vice president Mike Kelly and Nebraska Golf Association officials Craig Ames and Justin Ahrens, Chapman said he pondered the options the USGA has on certain holes.
What tees will be used on three holes that were lengthened in the course's renovation — the par-4 eighth, 10th and 18th holes? When might the tees be moved up on the two shortest par-4s on the back nine, making them reachable — or as he said, “have a pop at it,” — on the tee shot?
This season, Chapman has one top-10 finish in his first eight Champions Tour events. He and Jay Don Blake, in the Legends of Golf team tournament two weekends ago, led by one stroke before a final-round 71 dropped them into a tie for 16th place.
“The game's 75- to 80-percent,'' he said. “Just steady stuff, nothing special.”
The media day's press conference included updates from the USGA's Tim Flaherty and Jeff Hall and the tournament's general chairman, Patrick Duffy.
Flaherty said Omaha is only the third Senior Open, following Des Moines in 1999 and Toledo, Ohio, two years ago, to reach $2 million in ticket sales.
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