WATCH: Emotional ‘Beef’ Johnston reacts to career-low 62, Open bid, following traumatic season
Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston shot a career-low 62 to close the Scottish Open on Sunday at The Renaissance Club, and it was good enough to earn him a spot in next week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush. And after what’s been a difficult couple of seasons for the 30-year-old fan favorite, he was overcome with emotion during a post-round interview.
Johnson ended up tying for 4th at 19 under, but at the time he wasn’t positive his performance was good enough to gain one of the three spots handed out via The Open Qualifying Series, although it seemed promising at the time. It turned out to be enough, and Beef will make his third Open appearance in just a few days.
“It’s a nice feeling,” he said, wiping away tears. “I guess it’s been a hard year. So yeah, I’m happy. I’ve tried so hard in the last year. To come out and shoot a round like that is such a nice feeling.”
It was only 10 days earlier when Johnston wrote a heartfelt blog entry on the European Tour’s website. In it he detailed his recent struggles, both mentally and personally. He became a fan favorite at the 2016 Open at Royal Troon (where he finished 8th), but he wrote about the toll that instant fame took on him. Personally he’d dealt with a break-up with his long-time girlfriend, a break-in at his home and splits with his coach and caddie. His moods changed quickly and often. At the end of 2016 he was ranked 86th in the world. He was 337th entering the Scottish Open.
At the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Johnston says he couldn’t even grab his clubs from this locker when the tournament ended. He instead went back to his hotel room and cried.
Johnston eventually started working with psychologist Ben Davies, who he credits for helping him turn things around. Davies told Johnston to take some time off, which Beef was against, but he did it anyway and says it was beneficial. Davies helped him pinpoint that his sudden rise to stardom was taking a toll on him.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Johnston wrote. “I mean, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the crowds. I would never change that. But when you throw someone into that, you don’t know the effect it’s having on them. I had no idea. I didn’t realise the underlying pressure I was putting on myself to perform, to try and please thousands of people. I didn’t realise that was happening until I started working with Ben and he broke it all down.”
Johnston got engaged in December and he and his girlfriend are expecting a baby. His stellar play in Scotland is also bumping his World Ranking to 221st, an improvement of more than 100 spots. He’s now set for his first major start of the season, but he’s seemed to realize his world is bigger than just what happens on the links.
“Golf is just a small part of it at the end of the day,” Johnston wrote. “I didn’t realise that before.”
You can watch the entire interview with Johnston below, and check out his entire blog on the European Tour’s site here.