KORN FERRY TOUR INSIDER
Where's the Beef? Vying for a TOUR card in Boise
September 14, 2016
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Andrew "Beef" Johnston finished T28 at the Finals-opening DAP Championship. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Andrew “Beef” Johnston had already long been known in the golfing world prior to teeing it up in the Web.com Tour Finals, thanks to his large beard and even larger personality.
But the 27-year-old has come to the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco on a mission.
He wants to get his PGA TOUR card.
“It’s just good timing to come and give it a chance,” Johnston said on a cool, London-like Wednesday at Hillcrest Country Club on the rationale for why he was playing in the Web.com Tour Finals. “I have exemptions in Europe until 2018. I’m in good position to give it a go. You want to play the best events wherever they are, and America has a lot of them. If I can get a card and play some of the best events in America and the best in Europe, it’s a great schedule for the whole year.”
The affable Englishman, born of one-quarter Jamaican decent in London, played high-level amateur golf prior to turning professional in 2009. His early career was dotted with appearances on various European mini-tours, before finally obtaining his European Tour card in 2012 after a strong year on the Challenge Tour in 2011 (the Challenge Tour is, essentially, the European equivalent of the Web.com Tour).
But prior to his run in professional golf, Johnston’s father, Noel, passed away.
At the time, Johnston was just 17. But thanks to the support of family and friends, they encouraged him to keep going with golf. And now, he feels as though his father is with him every step of the way.
“Sometimes I’m walking along, and I know he’s looking down on me,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling.”
Johnston returned to the Challenge Tour in 2014, winning twice. He finally broke through on the European Tour in 2015 with two top-10 finishes, including a solo third at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and earlier this year, at the Real Club Valderrama Open de Espana hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, he notched his maiden European Tour victory.
It was there where he uttered six words that would catapult him to international stardom.
In a moment of pure honesty, he said, on how he was going to celebrate his win: “I can’t wait to get hammered.”
A star was born.
But Johnston’s other results this summer have proven he’s not just a one-trick pony (or, cow, if you’d like to align the turn-of-phrase with his nickname).
“I made a few changes last year, and the second half of last season was tough,” admitted Johnston. “I was making new changes, and this year I was coming in more settled. I was playing well, but just wasn’t producing the scores. Now, I’m more settled.”
Beef is on his way to Boise, with a gallery in tow. ⛳️ https://t.co/fW1iVXUnSF— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) September 13, 2016
Six weeks after his win, he finished tied for seventh at the BMW PGA Championship, one of the European Tour’s premier events. He followed that up with a tie for 54th at the U.S. Open, a solo eighth at The Open Championship, and a solo third at the Omega European Masters.
At the year’s third major, world No. 1 Jason Day said Johnston looked like a “top bloke” after meeting him.
“(He) looks like a guy you want to go down to the pub and have a beer with, even if you don’t drink,” Day said. “It’s good to see stories like that, and I’m hoping that he keeps the good play up, because I think we need more personalities in this game.”
For Johnston, putting his personality on display has actually helped his game.
“The more I’ve shown it, the better I’ve played,” he said. “If people want a high-five, or pictures, I love it. Everywhere I go, I feel like I’m at home. It’s a real good feeling.”
“The reception I’ve had has been amazing,” he continued. “The relationships I’ve had with fans, it’s been great, but that’s just who I am.”
Johnston is easy to like because he’s easy to relate to.
A man of the people.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) September 12, 2016
Beef enjoyed his time in Cleveland. pic.twitter.com/2GTRQ7TcWb
You can see him from a mile away - a beard as big and curly as his makes him quick to spot – and he’s just as comfortable sitting in a local pub talking about soccer (his team is Arsenal, who Johnston said has “no chance” to win the Champions League title, but, “you fancy one of the domestic cups maybe”), drinking a cold beer – hopefully from Beavertown Brewery, a craft label near his home in London – and of course, eating a good burger.
“I’m just a normal guy, man, just playing golf,” said Johnston with a smile.
This week in Boise, Johnston is eager to try some fries made from the iconic Idaho potato. But what does a guy whose nickname is Beef want on his fries?
“You have to have some good sauces. Ketchup, mayonnaise, Buffalo sauce. Then you’ve got to put some chili on there, some jalapenos, and cheese. The more the better!” he said, unsurprisingly, with a big laugh.
And that’s Beef. The more, the better.