“BEEF” is heading to the Gold Coast with English fan favourite Andrew Johnston packing his clubs, lush beard and engaging game for the Australian PGA.
Tournament organisers are delighted to have hooked the charismatic larrikin who may have just one European Tour title but the following of a world top 10 player.
Johnston, 29, breaks the mould of cardboard cutout Americans and not simply because he once happily teed up a cheeseburger to see how far he could drive it.
“Beef” has played twice in Perth but his visit to Royal Pines for the PGA (November 29-December 2) will be his first tournament in front of east coast fans.
His animated manner with galleries and broad grin come naturally for a burly shotmaker who won in Spain in 2016 and finished eighth in the British Open the same year.
He gave his best mate a running belly bump after a hole in one in 2015 so he celebrates his best shots with more than a staid dip of the cap.
In June, he dived into an endurance challenge of 18 holes across 18 different British courses in one day for a classic “Beef” meets “Beefy” fundraiser beside cricket great Ian Botham.
A second in the Indian Open is Johnston’s best result of a steady year with three top 10s on the European Tour.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Australia and I definitely couldn’t call myself a proper Englishman if I haven’t ticked the Gold Coast off my list,” Johnston said.
“To be part of the last pro tournament in Australia for the year will be pretty cool too and it will be good fun celebrating the year Down Under with everyone.”
On his visit to Perth this year, Johnson was happily photographed with a koala, on a segway and in a beer promotion.
Adding Johnston does beef up the field for the $1.5 million tournament beside top Aussies Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
“Having created this young and energetic atmosphere at the tournament, our aim each year is to attract players who personify those traits which Beef certainly does,” PGA of Australian chief executive Gavin Kirkman said.
“Beef is a sociable character with an exciting golf game.”
* Royal Pines amateur Hye Park (71-73) is a one-stroke leader at even-par entering today’s final round of the South Pacific Ladies Classic at Surfers Paradise Golf Club.
Indooroopilly’s Isabelle Simpson (74-70) is her closest challenger while Brisbane Golf Club’s first-round leader DeeDee Russell (70-80) has ground to catch up.
Variable weather may still play a part with an 8.30am shotgun start for the field today in an attempt to beat the predicted storms.
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