After 19 years Chapman is a sudden winner

Tim Glover shares in the party for a champion at the 472nd attempt

In North America last week Hal Sutton beat off Tiger Woods to win the US Players' Championship and with it the richest prize in the game, £675,000. In South America Roger Chapman took the Rio de Janeiro Open and £68,952.56. No comparison. Sorry Hal, but the Chapman story wins hands down.

Sutton may have waited 17 years for his second victory in the Players' Championship but Chapman has spent 19 years in pursuit of his holy grail. "It wasn't a monkey on my back," the Englishman said, "it was a bloody great gorilla."

Since turning professional in 1981 Chapman has played in 472 tournaments, and he had never won on the European Tour. His solitary success came in the Zimbabwe Open - at the Chapman Golf Club - in 1988.

He finally caught the bouquet in Rio (an inaugural event on the European Tour) last Sunday when he beat Padraig Harrington in a sudden-death play-off. Chapman, a runner-up on 12 occasions, had shot 65 in the last round to make up a five- stroke deficit to tie with the Irish Ryder Cup player.

At the first play-off hole - the 18th - Chapman hit his tee shot, a three-wood, into water. "I couldn't believe it," he said. "What had I done? Once again I thought it had all gone." After a penalty drop, he hit a four-iron into a greenside bunker. Harrington, safely on in two, three- putted and Chapman got up and down in two to halve the hole with a five. They returned to the 18th, and this time Harrington drove into the water. "I looked at my caddie, he looked at me and he could see in my face that this time I was going to do it," Chapman said.

After a good drive, Chapman hit a five-iron to within 15 feet of the flag. Harrington was also on the green, but with his third shot. "I thought his putt was in," Chapman said. "I said to myself, 'Padraig, please don't do this to me'. It just slid by and I had two putts for it. Padraig was gutted, but said he couldn't have lost to a nicer bloke. I felt sorry for him but it was my turn. It was a brilliant, brilliant feeling, total euphoria. It was everything I'd dreamt about and more, utter relief. I kept telling myself this is what I'd been working for all my life."

After ringing his wife Cathy at home in Windlesham, it was carnival time. Chapman bought dinner for Mark Mouland, Roger Winchester and Marc Farry before returning to the bar across the road from the Copacabana Beach. The assembled players and caddies broke into a chorus of "There's only one Roger Chapman". They didn't do that for Hal in Florida. "Everybody stood up and cheered," Chapman said. "I couldn't believe it. It was very emotional. It almost brought tears to my eyes."

But back in Surrey, Cathy has been bombarded with flowers, e-mails, faxes, letters and phone calls. "Mrs Montgomerie may know what it's like but I'm just not used to this," she said. "Roger's walking on air. He rang me after his round and I thought a top-five finish would be nice. Then he rang to say he was in a play-off and then he rang from a mobile by the 18th green to say he had won. It's been worth the wait."

If he had been receiving an Oscar, Chapman would have thanked his coach, George Will, who has been teaching him for 27 years, his manager, Jamie Salmon, and Cathy. Last season, for the first time in his career, Chapman failed to get his card. "I was going to pack it in," he said, "and do something else. I'd had enough."

Salmon, the former England and New Zealand rugby union centre, and Cathy both gave him a pep talk. Salmon: "I told him he was too nice to win and I think he has become a lot harder. Going to the qualifying school was the turning point. We knew it was his last chance." Cathy: "Going to the school brought home to him what he had to lose. I told him he wasn't a quitter."

There was something else. "The death of Payne Stewart last winter made me realise I was spoiled really," Chapman said. "He wanted to play but couldn't any more; I could play but didn't want to. It made me realise I had to get on with it. I needed a kick up the backside."

Chapman, a member of the Tour's tournament committee, could have taken the easy option and relied on sponsors'invites. Instead he went to the qualifying school, finished 12th and regained his card, not to mention self-respect. And Salmon's company, Sporting Contacts, got him a sponsor, Fairclough Homes. "Roger had already been turned down for the Spanish Open," Salmon said. "Now we can plan his schedule for the next two years. Life begins at 40."

Chapman, who will be 41 in May, has moved to 254th in the world rankings. Sutton, who is 41, has gone up to fifth. There is an oblique symmetry to their triumphs. Before turning professional in 1981 they played in the Walker Cup match between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland at Cypress Point. Chapman beat Sutton twice in one day.

One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Robin van Persie scores the third for Manchester United with a perfectly-guided header
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all