Fourth time lucky for Berry at Disabled British Open
At the fourth time of asking, Scotland's Alasdair Berry finally took the yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open golf title he'd come so close to winning in the past.
The 21-year-old, from Irvine Ravenspark GC, overcame a two-shot deficit after the first round to overhaul overnight leader Joakim Bjorkman, from Sweden, to take the title at East Sussex National with an impressive two-round score of 153, just nine over par.
The emotion of his success overwhelmed the affable three-handicapper as he was interviewed afterwards, reflecting a four-year odyssey which had seen him finish third in 2009, second in 2010, and third again last year.
Struggling to hold back the tears, he said:
"It feels fantastic and it hasn't quite sunk in yet. I've been close for the past three years so it's great to have finally won this year. The conditions were difficult during the second round as it was very windy. After the first hole Joakim and I were level on scores and he gave me a great game."
Berry finished six strokes clear of three players in joint second place: Bjorkman; 2009 and 2011 winner Duncan Hamilton-Martin (St George's Hill); and Kevin Harmison (Newbiggin), who had finished second, fifth and seventh in the previous three tournaments.
Bjorkman, 22, a five-handicapper from Frŏsåter GC, set a blistering pace on the first day, in torrential rain and blustery winds, recording a two-over-par 74. However, he could not maintain that level of performance and slipped to a second-round 85, allowing playing partner Berry to take advantage.
Lindsey Horton, a director of event organiser Remarkable Events, said: "Alasdair was an incredibly popular winner, particularly with his fellow competitors. Having come so close in the previous three events it was perhaps fitting that he should succeed at the fourth attempt.
"The competition was very strong, however, and it was great to see Joakim Bjorkman come so close on his tournament debut. It shows the yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open is a truly international event now, with 16 countries represented and, of course, this is the first time the winner has come from anywhere other than England.
"The natural conclusion is that, as the international participation in the event continues to expand, it will not be long before the title leaves these shores."
The yourgolftravel.com Junior Disabled Open, for youngsters aged under 18, was retained by 14-year-old Frankie Jones, from Welshpool, Powys. Berry also took the senior category one title, for those with a handicap of 12 and under; blind golfer Andrew Sellars (Normanton GC) took the 13-20 handicap category two title; and Scott Richardson (Stockwood Park) won the category three event (21-28).
The Disabled British Open was conceived in 2009 and delivered by the Accentuate project, funded by SEEDA and the Legacy Trust UK, to create a lasting legacy after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Last year the DBO received support from far and wide including the UK Government - both the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP, and the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, praised it for its inclusivity and legacy - the sport's governing body, the R&A, the European Tour and Wealden District Council.
n The 2012 yourgolftravel.com Disabled British Open will be shown in highlight form by Sky Sports on September 18 (SS3 7pm and SS4 11pm) and September 19 (SS3 9am and SS2 noon).