In the week when the world’s best will duel on the hallowed greens of Augusta, it seems pertinent to mention that West Ham United has a number of notable connections with the game of golf.
Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain and long-time European Tour player Paul McGinley is a lifelong Hammer, while current world number 30 Francesco Molinari of Italy is a self-proclaimed member of the Claret and Blue Army.
Completing a hat-trick of golfing Hammers is two-time senior major winner Roger Chapman, who has been a member of the Claret and Blue Army since 1966.
“I’ve been a Hammer since we won the World Cup!” smiled Chapman, who took time out from his preparations for next week’s Mitsubishi Electric Classic tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, to speak to whufc.com.
Chapman had been born seven years earlier in Kenya, where his father had a posting with the Ministry of Agriculture. The family then moved to Trinidad before returning to England in 1964 – the year West Ham won their first of three FA Cups.
“The first football match I ever watched was the World Cup final on TV,” he continued. “As Bobby Moore was captain Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick and Martin Peters scored the other, I thought that's my team, West Ham.
“As a youngster I was into all sports so didn't watch much, but I did watch the FA Cup final in 1975 when Alan Taylor scored twice. I felt for Bobby Moore being on the other side, but we did have a good run in Europe the following season.”
Chapman turned professional after playing outstanding golf at the 1981 Walker Cup – a Ryder Cup for amateurs – and he spent the next 25 years travelling the world as a member of the European Tour.
A consistent performer, Chapman won events in Brazil, Morocco and Zimbabwe, while he also represented England at the Alfred Dunhill Cup in 2000, before joining the PGA TOUR Champions for golfers aged 50 and over in 2009.
There, playing against Major winners like Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Jose Maria Olazabal, Chapman has enjoyed great success.
In May 2012, eight days after West Ham had won promotion back to the Premier League, he secured the Senior PGA Championship, before adding the U.S. Senior Open title two months later.
As Bobby Moore was captain Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick and Martin Peters scored the other, I thought that's my team, West Ham
“I started playing golf as a ten-year-old, caddying for my Dad at Faversham Golf Club,” he recalled. “I asked him one day ‘Can I play?’ and his answer was ‘No, there's no future in it!’.
“As an amateur, I represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup and won the English Amateur title.
“I turned pro in 1982, joined the European Tour and played all the way through to 2006. I won once in Europe and twice in Africa and played in more than 600 events on the European Tour!
“Winning the PGA Senior Championship and U.S. Senior Open within 50-odd days of each other has been the absolute highlight of my career. The picture on my twitter profile illustrates that I was only the fourth person in history to achieve that feat behind Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin – so I’m in illustrious company!”
Having turned 50 himself in December, Irishman McGinley will be joining Chapman on the PGA TOUR Champions, and the 57-year-old is relishing the opportunity to chat West Ham with his fellow Hammer, wherever they are in the world.
“As Paul McGinley has joined the Tour, I'm sure we will have many a chat over a glass of something about the Hammers!” he confirmed. “That will make up for the fact that I can't convince my sons to follow the Hammers, as they are both glory hunters!”
Chapman’s ongoing success means he is not considering packing his clubs away anytime soon, but that has meant his attendance at West Ham United matches in person has been somewhat sporadic down the years.
“Playing golf all around the world meant I didn’t go to the Boleyn Ground often, but I do have some great memories of the games I did get along to, like Nigel Reo-Coker's winning goal against Manchester United in December 2006!” he recalled.
“I don’t have a Season Ticket at present, as I'm still playing regularly, but hopefully when I retire I will be able to go more often. I haven't been to the new ground yet, but I plan to go as soon as possible.
“I think Slaven is the right man for the job. We had a poor start to the season and then seemed to have turned it round, but now we have to kick on again.”
Despite being born in Africa and raised in the Caribbean and later in Kent, Chapman has huge affection for east London and its people, as well as its football club.
“West Ham like to play football, as they did under Ron Greenwood and John Lyall they did,” he said. “I went to the FA Cup final in Cardiff. I will never forgive Steven Gerrard for what he did in injury time! I was gutted!
“I love the passionate east Londoners and I love the banter from the fans.”
*You can follow Roger Chapman on twitter @ROGERCHAPMAN1.
Keep your eyes peeled to whufc.com for more stories about some of the people who make West Ham United much more than just a football club.