Dean Bailey chats with the EuroPro Tour’s tour champion Adam Chapman, reflects on his first year as a professional and finds out what lies ahead for the region’s newest Challenge Tour player
Adam Chapman is the first to admit his first year as a professional has been a rollercoaster.
An early win on the 1836 Tour was followed by a string of successful cuts on the EuroPro Tour – a steady start to life in the paid ranks.
A dip in form followed however, as did a back injury, and things looked to be heading toward an assured, if unspectacular, opening year as a professional with a top 60 finish in the EuroPro’s Race to Amendoeira.
Jump forward to the Sky Sports Tour Championship at the Oceanico Faldo Course and a year of consolidating his place as a satellite tour player leapt into a stellar year as he lifted the trophy with a three-shot win over Min Kyu Kim – securing a £22,500 cheque and a full card for the 2018 Challenge Tour.
“It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least. I’m just about caught up with what’s happened now,” says Adam – now a month removed from the Tour Championship.
“Things hadn’t quite clicked this season and although I knew I could win, I wasn’t expecting it going into the week.”
The reaction at home was similarly unexpected, adds Adam. “My dad was out working and he didn’t find out until about an hour afterwards; my mum was nearly in tears when she found out.
“The team at Carus Green, including my sponsor Graham Curtin, were all really proud as well. Everyone has been over the moon having watched me try so hard to do this from being a kid. Without my parents and the backing of Graham I wouldn’t have got this far.”
Adam led each round of the Tour Championship in Portugal and recorded a hole-in-one on the second day en-route to the trophy. However, the final round wasn’t without its nervy moments. Having started the final round with a four-shot lead, Adam was in tie for the lead after just five holes. A spell of attacking golf around the turn followed, including birdies at the 11th and 14th to return his three-shot lead and secure the title.
“I knew I was playing well enough having got into that position and I just had to trust myself to come through and get the win.
“I couldn’t believe what happened and it’s taken a while to get my head around it. I’ve had to change all the plans I’d started to put into place for next year,” adds Adam, who changed his putter in the week before the event having struggled on the greens for much of the season.
Those plans, to push up the EuroPro rankings while continuing to work on his game in 2018, have been replaced with travel planning, learning as much as possible from his fellow pros about life on the Challenge Tour and gearing up to launch a bid to maintain his Challenge Tour status.
“The goal for 2018 is similar to the one I had starting out this year, to maintain my card and build up some experience as a tour player. The only difference is I’ll be going all over the world,” he adds.
Having returned home to take in the win with his mum Helen, dad Peter and girlfriend Leonie, Adam returned to Portugal for the end of the season before he plans to unwind over the Christmas period ahead of getting straight back to work in the New Year.
“I’ll not be having too much time off but I’m looking forward to being back home and enjoying time with the family and my girlfriend. I’ve got some work to do in the gym and I want to spend some time with my coach Andrew Pickering at Carus Green ahead of getting started on the Challenge Tour in March.”
The first year for any tour professional is a steep learning curve, though Adam admits his second year may yet prove to be an even steeper curve.
“I learned a lot this year, including that I play a little bit too much. I played 16 EuroPro events this year including three I shouldn’t have played after I injured my back. I played a lot of golf as an amateur too and I’ve now learned that playing week-in week-out isn’t always the best for my game.”
An England international from the age of 17, 22-year-old Adam turned pro at the start of the year following three years as an elite amateur as part of the England system.
“I was a bit undecided about turning pro and didn’t know whether I should spend another year with England. I got mixed feedback from the people I asked but I decided to go for it – I think it’s worked out pretty well so far.
“As a whole my year has been a rollercoaster. I seem to play my best golf at the end of the year, that’s when my big wins came as an amateur, and as my form builds through the season the results tend to follow.”
When it comes to experiences, Adam admits he’s learned a lot this season. “The most important thing I learned was to not play too much golf. I played too much as an amateur and fell into that cycle again this year. I need to plan my season out better, get more organised and be aware of how I sync things up to play my best golf.”
With planning a year of travel around the world ahead of him, a pause for reflection reveals just how far Adam has surpassed even his own expectations.
“My target at the start of the year was to make the top 60 on the EuroPro Tour. I was gearing up for another year on the EuroPro. Now I don’t need to…and I can’t wait to get going again.
“The standard will be high and my only plan so far is to go out there and play my best every week. Much like last year, if I can keep my card I’d be happy – anything else is a bit of bonus.”
That bonus proved to be a pretty big one in 2017. Just imagine what 2018 could bring…