Beef finds a kindred spirit in John Daly
July 27, 2016
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Andrew "Beef" Johnston and John Daly first met in at the 2012 BMW International Open. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Editor’s note: As the year draws to a close, we are bringing you some of 2016’s most unique stories to enjoy on your holiday break. Enjoy these looks at some of the unique personalities who play the game we love.
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Andrew Johnston, a.k.a. Beef, first met John Daly, a.k.a. Long John, in Germany at the 2012 BMW International Open.
The Englishman, then 23, was making just his 12th start on the European Tour, and Daly, a two-time major champion, was one of his childhood favorites. “He was a character,” explained Beef, who can now make a similar claim himself.
So Johnston gathered up his courage and walked over to Daly.
“I read your book,” Beef said. “I’m a big fan.”
Long John’s response? “Cool.”
As luck would have it, Daly and Johnston crossed paths several more times. A year ago, the two were paired during the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie.
“He kicked my ass,” Daly recalled with a wry grin. For the record, the final tally was Beef 76, Long John 81.
But, as Daly put it, the two kindred souls had a “blast” that day. Phone numbers were exchanged, dinner plans made and a friendship was cemented.
Four weeks later, they would meet again at the Turkish Airlines Open. This time, the competition spilled out beyond the golf course.
“He … thought he could drink whiskey like me,” Daly said, chuckling. “And that didn’t pan out too good. It was so funny.
“He came over to the hotel, we just started drinking and listening to music. He tried to keep up -- and he just couldn’t.”
Now they find themselves in the same field again this week at the PGA Championship. Daly, who won the PGA 25 years ago in his tournament debut, is making his 24th career start. Johnston is making his first. Whether a similar, ahem, “competition” is planned this week has yet to be determined.
Beyond the shared love of music and booze – Johnston told the media after winning the Open de Espana earlier this year that he just wanted to “go home and get hammered with his mates and see his mum” – Daly sees a bit of himself in the 27-year-old.
Johnston, who Daly calls “Beefy,” has the same kind of larger-than-life personality that Long John has. And it was on full display two weeks ago at the Open Championship, where Beef’s success had people in the fans mooing and chanting his name on the way to an eighth-place finish.
“He’s a people person,” Daly said. “He loves people and he loves people to root for him. That’s just the way I was.
“To get the crowd on your side, it’s not like you have to try real hard. You just got to be nice and try to sign as many autographs as you can and wave to them. That’s all they want.”
Johnston signed so many autographs during his Tuesday practice round, in fact, that he’s had to remind himself he has a job to do this week at Baltusrol.
“But it was the first real time where I’ve had that much attention,” Johnston said. “I come off the course and I was like, that was crazy. That was mad.
“It’s just a thing of trying to get the right timing to spend time with all the fans because I love it. I absolutely love it. And it means so much to me. But at the same time, you’ve got to get your practice in as well.”
How can you not stop, though, when you come upon a group of guys who have decided to dress up like you – complete with the trademark curly brown beard Johnston has been growing for 11 months?
“They were nearly (dressed) as me,” Johnston said, his face erupting into a huge grin. “They turned up in ginger beards. I said to one of them, ‘Who got these beards?’
“And they all pointed at one guy. And I was like, ‘I hope he’s buying all the drinks for you lot, because he’s had a shocker here.’ But it’s so nice to see.”
The beard was a favorite of Johnston’s girlfriend of seven years, at least in the beginning. Now, not so much. But it’s part of what makes Beef the character that he is so he won’t be shaving any time soon.
“She was all for it when it come,” Johnston said. “Now she’s like, come on now, you got to get it off. I’m like, it’s too late now. It’s too late.”
In a shrewd marketing move last week, Johnston’s agent procured a sponsorship deal with Arby’s. So starting with the PGA Championship, the fast-food chain’s logo will be stitched on Beef’s shirt and hat.
A perfect fit for a man’s man who has nine cuts of meat – ribeye, brisket, sirloin, T-bone, filet mignon, porterhouse, skirt, tri-tip and flank – etched in red on his 58-degree wedge. No word on whether the childhood friend who pinned the original nickname “beef-head” on Johnston gets any residuals.
“I never actually tried Arby’s before I was in Manhattan on Saturday,” Johnston said. “Went in had a brisket sandwich, and before that I had basically gone with the Wall Street Journal to eat three different burgers … and like, review (them).
“I was really full up. But I nearly ate that whole Arby’s sandwich, man, it was good.”
Oh, and he worked behind the counter that night, too – although Beef said he was “too scared” to slap any cheese on those burgers. He put the food in the paper bags, though, and shouted out the names for people to pick up their orders.
“That was probably the most fun,” Johnston said when asked about his adventures since leaving Royal Troon. Oh, and he enjoyed introducing his manager to Katz Deli on Sunday.
“I can’t find a better place that does pastrami, man.”
Johnston started playing golf when he was 4 after his dad, a single-digit handicapper, taught him to hit balls in a field near their London home. He turned pro at the age of 20 but has had a relatively quiet existence until the last two weeks.
As much as he’s enjoying – and thriving – with all the attention, though, Johnston maintains that he’ll be focused come Thursday when he tees off at 12:35 p.m. ET with Scott Piercy and Alexander Noren. He doesn’t want to be a one-hit wonder.
“I want to come away and look back in so many years and think, yeah, that’s been a great time on the golf course,” Johnston said. “And not going, oh yeah, well, it was good for a period of time but we had a good laugh.
“No, it’s all about the golf.”
And the people he can bring to the game.
Like the man who tweeted him the other day and said he hadn’t picked up a golf club in five years but after seeing Johnston play, he headed to the course last weekend. Or the parents who posted videos of their kids playing.
“One kid (was) hitting a cheeseburger and I was like, no, no, no, make him hit a golf ball please,” Johnston said, laughing.
“But that’s nice, man, and if I can get people playing golf and enjoying it, wanting to get out there, that means the world to me.”