Andrew Johnston has taken off quite a bit in America. He was a known commodity winning the Open de Espana.
Many do not know this name though, but rather one word “Beef”.
My first Beef experience came in the third round of Saturday’s U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Johnston was way behind in the standings but his attitude did not change. Fans were cheering him as he raised the roof.
This was something special and I stored it away for later. Clearly this was just temporary and this happiness would not last.
Fast forward one day and I went into the media interview request area submitted my request to talk to the man named Beef. I wanted to see what the hoopla was all about.
I walked back over to the area as Johnston was on the 18th hole. All of a sudden I heard a loud, clear scream.
“Beeeeeffff,” the audience roared.
I will be honest and state that at first I thought they were chanting “Spieth”, for Jordan Spieth but looked at the pairings guide to confirm this not to be the case.
After the final hole was done, the wait for Johnston began. He finished in a tie for 54th place, but that was not the story, though it was his first start in America.
I was told I had a few minutes to speak with Johnston as he had a flight to catch. He had switched into his tennis shoes, gave me a firm handshake and away we went.
After some basics about the round, I asked him about the impression he got from this first start in America and it was a genuine one.
“People told me that they were going to love me in America,” Johnston said at the time. “I thought ‘okay, yeah, yeah you might get a little bit of a reception’. I never thought it would have been this mad. The last two days have been absolutely crazy, and all of the playing partners have had no idea what was going on.”
A lot of people are drawn to Johnston who was seen in at Pittsburgh International Airport in a 1979 style Pirates bucket hat and Penguins Stanley Cup shirt among other items he purchased from the city.
Johnston makes himself very accessible to fans whether its doing face swaps on Snapchat, spending hours signing autographs and posing for pictures, eating hamburgers made from food trucks or just interacting on Twitter, there may not be a professional golfer more fan friendly.
Recently, Johnston added a fitting sponsor in Arby’s, whose logo now can be seen prominently on his polos.
Johnston endears himself to fans with his relaxed nature and reactions that the average person would have.
When he won the Open de Espana, he was quick to admit his plan to “get hammered”. Johnston promised to do the same for a week were he to have won the U.S. Open. This every man type of reaction earned him his fair share of fans.
“I’m just telling the truth,” Johnston said. “I’ve grown up and had a normal childhood. I was a member of my home course, nothing special, playing golf and then you end up playing in a U.S. Open, it’s mad. I don’t see myself as any different than anyone else. I don’t care where someone is from and what they are, if they’re nice and they’re fun, I’ve got all the time in the world for them. I think the guys picked up on that and I felt so much love this week, it’s been great.”
Since Oakmont, Johnston has gained experience playing in the United States playing in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and tied for eighth recently at The Open Championship.
My interview on that Sunday afternoon in June ended with another handshake and a “cheers” from the 27-year-old from London, England before he walked off Oakmont Country Club.
It was that moment that I knew why he was so likable.
Practically anyone can relate to him and everyone roots for him. It is clear that this is no act. Fans love Johnston and he loves them right back.