By Simon Evans
KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina (Reuters) - As a 53-year-old golfer, Britain's Roger Chapman thought his chances of competing in another PGA Tour major championship had long since disappeared.
But on Thursday, over a decade after the Englishman's last major appearance, Chapman will make his PGA Championship debut after an unexpected and lucrative rediscovery of form.
Victory in the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores, Michigan, in May earned him a place at the Ocean Course this week while a U.S. Senior Open title win in July earned him a berth in next year's U.S. Open.
"It's pretty unexplainable," said Chapman, when asked to reflect on how a largely journeyman career has suddenly been re-activated on the Champions Tour for senior players.
"(Senior golf) gives you a new lease of life, you're not going to be on the scrap heap for years to come. You try to take every opportunity you can and fortunately I took those two."
The 1979 English Amateur winner turned professional in 1982 but managed just one win from 606 European Tour events spanning 27 years.
His last appearance at a major was the 2002 British Open at Muirfield where he was disqualified after signing for the wrong score.
"I thought that was my last, the Open Championship in 2002," Chapman told reporters.
"Obviously I tried to play a couple more but that was my last Open. I hadn't thought of being at a U.S. PGA or a U.S. Open, which I will be at next year, so now the only one missing is the Masters - I wonder if there is an invitation," he joked.
Chapman was spurred along by former Ryder Cup captain and two-times major winner Tony Jacklin.
"He basically said to me, you're a really good player and you can make lots of money on the Senior Tour, go out and do it. Coming from somebody with such a high standing in the game it just gives you a boost," said Chapman.
Jacklin was right -- the two senior major wins have earned Chapman combined prize money of $878,000 as well as his chance at this week's PGA Championship.
"I'm just going to enjoy it. If I make the cut, I make the cut," said Chapman. "It's another big experience for me and to be treading the fairways with these wonderful young players, it's a real huge lift for me and an honor to be here."
(Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Frank Pingue)
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