Josh is boy wonder
He went; he played; he conquered. Doncaster’s Josh Berry is the new French under 14 champion.
The 12-year-old became the first English winner of the Chantilly International U-14 Trophy in the 45-year history of the event after carding rounds of 70 and 69 for a seven under par total.
An opening round tee time of 7.30am saw Josh play the Chantilly course at all of its 6,450 yards and birdies at the third and fourth saw him turn in level par.
A bad lie in a bunker on 12 led to a bogey before a barrage of birdies on 13, 15, 17 and 18 saw him sign for a 69 and had his dad Scott describing his closing burst as some of the best golf he had seen from his son.
After a long wait he was confirmed as the joint leader and assigned a 2.50pm tee time for the last round over this most aristocratic of French courses and one which has played host to numerous top events including the French Open.
On the opening hole he made a crucial par save from a tough spot behind the green before once again making birdies at the third and fourth to go five under for the tournament, and he was a little unlucky on the short eighth when his tee shot pitched a few inches from the hole before spinning back to five feet from where he missed the putt.
But he soon got over that disappointment by making another birdie at the ninth to move to six under and after a bogey on 10 he again bounced back with a string of birdies at 12, 13 and 14.
It put him well in front and a closing par saw him win by four shots from a field which included a host of junior internationals from across Europe.
His dad added: “I can honestly say the maturity and performance was his best yet.”
Normally the Chantilly club would be bidding adieu for good as most of the competitors are at the age limit of 14 and the President of the club, Laurent Bailly, was surprised when he found out that Josh was only 12 and would be back to defend his title next year as he won’t turn 14 until May 13, 2019.
It was the start of an exciting few weeks for the youngster who then went on to make his debut for England under 16s against the North-West at Alwoodley, before starting for the first time for the Sheffield Union scratch team and lining up again for the first time for Yorkshire under 18s.
The Doncaster Golf Club member is now off a handicap of 1.2 and will also head to the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego in July after winning the Spanish qualifying event by a massive 20 shots.
Josh, who only took up the game three years ago, shot an impressive total of two under par over 54 holes of the tough Asia course at La Cala Resort in Mijas on the Costa Del Sol.
And he is hoping it will be third time lucky in Southern California having qualified for the biggest international junior golf event in the world for the past two years.
The tournament has grown to attract 1200 participants representing 56 countries and is unique for its international representation and cultural diversity.
The youngster gave up a promising career as a footballer at Rotherham’s Academy and hasn’t looked back since, making it into the Yorkshire under 16 and England regional squads under the expert eye of coach Steve Robinson at Sandburn Hall.
Last year he won the Adidas Wee Wonders British Championship for an unprecedented second time. His 65 at Strathyrum in Scotland was a course record and bettered that of previous contestants Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick, to name but a few who have gone on to win on the European Tour.
Josh added the US Kids Golf British Championship, the Loretto Scottish Championship and the North of England under 12s Championship to his haul. He also picked up another trophy in the European Junior Golf Tour event at Hesketh in February where he won with an impressive gross score of 72 in winds gusting to over 30mph.
Father Scott went on: “As soon as he picked up a club he packed in his football. His attitude and desire to learn are both first class and his success is all down to him. We had to travel to Spain to get through to the World Championships again as the English qualifier is played at the same time as the Reid Trophy, and we are looking forward to heading over to San Diego again this summer.”
Josh looks like a star in the making and his ambition is to follow in the footsteps of his golfing idol Jordan Spieth and win an Open Championship and play in the Masters.