08/08/2016

Golf fans watching the Olympics in Rio or the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine this fall may well be wondering, “Where’s the Beef?”

Missing from those two marquee events will (probably) be Andrew “Beef” Johnston, a 27-year-old European Tour pro from London who emerged this year as a star-potential player with natural star-power personality.

Golf has always had a small supply of colorful characters to distract us from the sometimes seemingly robotic cast on the world golf stage. Johnston, who has worn the nickname “Beef” since childhood and still loves his steaks and burgers, is following in the time-honored mold of Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Lee Trevino, John Daly, Fuzzy Zoeller and a few others.

Johnston has a beard and a belly that make him stand out from his fellow pros on the driving range. He’s also proven surprisingly honest with the media.

After an over-par tournament finish gave him a one-shot victory for his first Euro Tour win in the Spanish Open this spring Johnston famously admitted, in probably one of the most truthful victory pronouncements ever, that he was excited to “go home and get hammered with my mates.”  

 After he fulfilled that mission, he tweeted some photos to show his enjoyment.

Since that tournament win, Beef has maintained a high profile with both good golf and frequent social media exchanges.

Johnston finished 8th in the British Open in July and has three European Tour top-10s this year to go with his victory in Spain. He also made the cut in the PGA Championship.

@Beefgolf on Twitter shows Johnston’s personality and his personal side, as he and #teambeef interact with his 62,000 followers (and growing!) @Beefgolf is also on Instagram with lots of photos from his 2016 campaign, both on and off the golf course.

Johnston’s solid performance this year currently has him ranked 19th on the Euro Tour’s Race to Dubai and 24th in both the European Points and World Points lists.

Unfortunately, those rankings weren’t high enough to earn Johnston a shot at a gold medal in Rio, as Masters champion Danny Willett and 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose are representing Great Britain in the Olympics. The rankings don’t look good for Beef making the Ryder Cup this fall either as the European Points and World Points lists are used to determine nine of the 12 European Ryder Cup team members.

Could Beef Johnston be one of team leader Darren Clarke’s three Captain’s picks? The chance is small; players ahead of Johnston in the rankings but not in the current top nine include Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry, Victor Dubuisson, Francesco Molinari, Soren Kjeldsen and Graeme McDowell.

Clarke’s picks won’t be announced until Monday, August 29 after the nine automatic qualifiers are set.  Some of the other players have Ryder Cup experience and are having better season’s than Johnston, but none are as likely to be popular with the American crowd in Minnesota as the Beef was with PGA spectators at Baltusrol, even though he finished 60th.   

And, if Johnston is a surprise pick to the European Ryder Cup team and he performs well both on the course and in the interview room, he could become the Ryder Cup’s breakout media star.

In any case, here’s looking forward to following the Beef in 2017.