High-flying Max toughs it out
By Danny Lockwood Ilkley member Max Berrisford survived a Sunday morning wobble to finish strongly and become a joint winner of the presti- gious Berkshire Trophy, thus following in the footsteps of such names as Sir Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Sir Michael Bonallack and more recently Eddie Pepperell. The 72-hole strokeplay championship at The Berkshire was played over two days in mid-June and the Ilkley man got off to the strongest possible start, card ng the event’s lowest round of -7 (64) in his opening round over the Blue course. His afternoon outing on the Red was not so straightforward but three bogeys mixed in with four birdies looked a lot better when birdies at 15 and 16 were followed by an eagle at the 17th and a 36- hole total of -12. That gave Berrisford a 4-shot lead over Burnham & Berrow’s Freddie Turnell. Both Sunday rounds were over the Red course alongside Turnell and Royal Birkdale’s Greg Holmes but a triple bogey at the 8th and double at the 14th in his morning round saw Berrisford return a +1 score of 73 and go into the final round two shots back of Turnell. In a group ahead of them, Charlie Forster of Basingstoke had recorded a morning 65 to also lie two ahead of the Ilkley man. Forster faded to a closing 71, but in the last group the final round was nip and tuck with both men netting three birdies to the turn. The lead ebbed and flowed but coming down the 17th, a 562-yard par-5, Berrisford was still two back. “At that point I felt like I had nothing to lose,” said the 23-year-old. “I hit a lovely pitch to get my birdie.” With Turnell greenside things didn’t look good, but after an uncharacteristic blip saw him bogey, the pair were tied. Cue a nerve-wracking 72nd hole. “I had about a 30-footer for birdie but I left it six-feet short – and Freddie rolled his putt hole-side for a tap in. You could say I was a bit nervous.” When the putt dropped for a closing 67 against Turnell’s 69, the pair were the latest players to share The Berkshire title, as it is one of the amateur ‘Majors’ that doesn’t have play-offs or countbacks. Wakefield’s George Heath (-6) and Moortown’s Oliver Cage (-4) also made the 36-hole cut. The Yorkshire team player plans on keeping his amateur status while having a run at Q School later in the year and keeping working at the Express Golf Centre outside Bradford. Should the golf not pan out however, the sky will still be very much the limit – because Berrisford has already got his pilot’s licence and also has one eye on a career there. “It’s been a dream of mine since childhood, and I got my PPL (pilot’s licence) in the middle of last year. It’s a bit rogue I suppose!” he laughed, “but it was something I’ve always wanted to do.” If he needs some career advice – in either regard – he can always call on a fellow County golfer Richard Wheatley. The 2022 Yorkshire Amateur champion doubles up as a pilot on Jet2, flying out of Leeds-Bradford! PS: Yorkshire has had one notable previous Berkshire winner – YUGC Secretary Jonathan Plaxton, in 1984!