The Beef has made it to Boise.
English golfer Andrew “Beef” Johnston shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Albertsons Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club. He is two shots off the lead, tied for eighth with nine other golfers.
“I started off really well and then I played the next few holes pretty bad,” Johnston said. “I just tried to make a few birdies coming in, which I did. So it was a decent day.”
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The 27-year-old Johnston has become a fan favorite after his eighth-place finish in July’s British Open. A combination of his “everyman” body and his boisterous personality has endeared him to fans.
Johnston said he got the nickname “Beef” as a preteen. The combination of his hair and face made him look like a roast to one of his buddies. The name has stuck for more than a decade.
“One of my friends said, ‘Look at you and your hair. You’ve got a big head. You’ve got a big beef head,’ ” Johnston said with a laugh. “It’s been shortened down to ‘Beef’ now.”
Johnston, listed at 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds, initially made his way into people’s hearts in April after winning the Spanish Open. In his victory press conference, he proclaimed he wanted to return home and, “Get hammered and see my mom, brother and spend time with them and just celebrate.”
Since then, Johnston has picked up an unexpected following. Every hole he approaches is met with cheers of “Beef” from the crowd. Johnston waves and talks to his fans as he walks from hole to hole.
“It’s wicked, man, I love it. It’s just good fun, you know,” Johnston said. “That’s just who I am, man. I don’t know, I just really appreciate it. I think that’s the most important thing, I just really appreciate the support and am just glad people are having a good time and coming out to watch.”
Local fans gathered to watch Johnston on Thursday, including Eagle teens Taylor Henry and Tyler Joplin.
“He’s just really positive about the game. He likes interaction with the fans,” Henry said. “That’s pretty sweet.”
Joplin compared him to being a classmate.
“I’ve never seen someone like that on a golf course,” Joplin said. “He’s just like another high school student.”
Johnston said he has enjoyed his newfound fame and is taking it in stride. He’s not doing anything differently than he did before. He’s the same smiling, goofy, bearded Beef.
“I’m just a normal geezer, man. I’m just a normal guy,” he said. “I just happen to play golf, and I guess I can relate to everyone.’’
Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @IDS_katz
Boise Open leaderboard
Boise Open fan facts
▪ Where: Hillcrest Country Club, Boise
▪ Friday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
▪ Saturday: 9 a.m.; leaders tee off at approximately 11:30 a.m.
▪ Sunday: 9 a.m.; leaders tee off at approximately 11:30 a.m. (awards ceremony after 4 p.m.)
▪ Who: Top 75 players on the Web.com Tour, Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour and select other golfers
▪ Purse: $1 million ($180,000 for winner)
▪ TV: The Golf Channel (12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Friday)
▪ Tickets: $15 daily grounds, $25 weekly grounds ($35 at the gate), $50 weekly clubhouse ($70 at the gate). Youths 17 and younger get in free with a ticketed adult. Purchase, or get more info, at albertsonsboiseopen .com/tickets-info.
▪ Parking: Free shuttle from the airport economy lot at Victory and Orchard.
▪ Free post-golf concerts at the course: Pilot Error (Friday) and Lounge on Fire (Saturday).