British Open 2016: Why You Should Root for Beef Johnston

July 15, 2016

Where’s the Beef?

In the hunt at the 145th Open Championship, just six off the lead.

If you’re looking for someone to root for this week at Royal Troon, you could do worse than flying your flag for 27-year-old Englishman Andrew Johnston, the man they call “Beef.” Not so much because he’s seeking his first major title or playing close(ish) to his suburban London home, but because he’s #$%&#! hilarious. With all due respect to John Daly, Paul Goydos and Fuzzy Zoeller, Johnston is No. 1 in the OWFGR (Official World’s Funniest Golfer Ranking).

Beef is honest, direct, irreverent. Burly and bearded, he looks like a Delta Tau Chi frat bro, and he parties like one, too. The other day he teed up … a burger.

And now a pair of two-under 69s has Beef in the thick of things on the meaty links of Troon. Time to gloat? Not Beef, who came off the course Friday and, unprompted, immediately started discussing the shank he hit on the fourth hole on Thursday (“I haven’t hit one since I was like 12 years old”), plus two more hosel-rockets he hit on Friday.

“On 11, I pretty much shanked two 3-woods,” Beef said. “Yeah, two funny ones and then bounced back again.”

You never heard Tiger recounting his duffs.

LEADERBOARD: Live Scoring From the 2016 British Open

Beef made seven birdies Friday, which were somewhat neutralized by the unfortunate 7 he made at the treacherous par-4 11th. But c’mon, seven birds! Surely the press wanted details, right? Maybe later, Beef. First, about that name…

“Oh, man, it’s a bad story,” Beef began. “Just when I was a kid, if I’d grow my hair out, I’m quarter Jamaican so it goes curly. So one of my friends said, ‘Look at your head, it looks like a big bit of beef. You’ve got a beef head.’ And honestly it just stuck. Now everyone calls me Beef.”

Given Beef’s candor and accessibility and Bunyan-esque beard, it should come as no surprise that he has fast attracted a cult following. On Friday, members of the Beef Brigade (unofficial name) urged on their man through the wind and rain. At 15, a couple of fans waved burgers at him. Actual burgers.

“That’s amazing!” Beef said later. “I love that.”

“If someone shouts my name out and stuff and has some fun, I’m going to acknowledge it and maybe have a laugh back, man, because that’s just the way I am,” Beef continued. “I guess that’s the way I’ve been brought up in my golf club. Everyone just sort of has a bit of banter and has fun.”

Beef has plenty of time to kill before his Saturday tee time. His plans? “About 20 cups of tea maybe,” he said. Presumably also a pint of lager or two.

Beef plans to pass the time challenging his five-year-old niece, Summer, to a few grudge matches of Soft Kitties, a puzzle app featuring pictures of adorable cats. (Don’t tell Beef’s pals.)

Then it’s back to the grind at the Open Championship, where Summer will join the rest of Beef’s growing legion on the rugged, wind-whipped linksland. “I think she’s getting into it,” Beef said. “I can hear her shouting out, ‘Uncle Beef!’ nearly every hole, and ‘Beef to the rescue!’”

Can Uncle Beef win?

“Yeah, why not? Why not?” he said. “I think you’ve got to believe.”

Beef believes. Do you?