Beef, with family, living the dream at Royal Troon

By Mercer BaggsJuly 16, 2016, 7:19 pm

TROON, Scotland – There he is. The man of the hour. Soaking in the adoration of the crowd. Walking the 18th fairway in the game’s most majestic event.


And there, some 250 yards in arrears, standing on a mound to see over the hundreds and hundreds of applauding fans is his mother.

Jackie smiles. It’s that kind of smile that makes you smile, because you can sense the pride and love. Beside her is her daughter, Beef’s sister, Emily Brinton. Running up and down the mound is Emily’s daughter, Summer.

The family is staying together this week, renting a house a few miles away in Ayr. They’ll be joined by brother James on Sunday.

Andrew Johnston is at 5 under par through 54 holes of The Open at Royal Troon. He is seven shots off the lead, but in solo fourth place. He played alongside Sergio Garcia in Round 3. And while Sergio did what Sergio tends to do on major Saturdays, Johnston held his own. He played a terribly difficult back nine in 1 over and posted a 1-under 70.

“I'm so competitive. That's what it's about,” he said, following his round. “I love the competition and just competing, man. That's what I love.

"I'm just going to go out there [on Sunday] and have fun, enjoy it like I did today. I'm a good ways back, but who knows?"

Johnston addressed in excess of 30 media members, crammed in the corner of a makeshift tent. They all wanted to know his story: about his nickname, his beard, what he has been eating this week, his following. Someone even asked how much he weighed. It’s a good read, if you’re interested.

This is an unusual time for Johnston. A few years ago, he was trying to make enough money to cover the cost of Christmas gifts. Now he’s in the penultimate group on Sunday of The Open.

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“It’s what it’s all about, you know,” he said, using one of his favorite phrases. “I’m loving it. Loving it, man. This is what I’ve dreamed of as a kid, man.”

It’s a shared vision.

In trouble on the par-4 13th and hoping to save par, Johnston chipped in for birdie. After the jubilation died down he looked to his mother. She was crying. Andrew, as she calls him, had to look away before he shed tears, too.

“You made mom cry!” Emily said.

“That was the point!” Andrew replied.

Emily resides in Palm Harbour, Fla. She had been wanting to see her brother play for some time and finally did at this year’s U.S. Open. “Those crowds,” she said. “They loved him. I’ve never seen anything like it, really. All the calls – BEEEEEF!”

Emily is a bit reticent to call Andrew by the nickname a friend of his gave him at age 12.

“From my hair on my head,” Johnston explained. “I grow it out it grows curly. And my mate just went, ‘Look at your hair. It's like a big bit of beef,’ and called me a ‘Beefhead.’ That was it. It's been shortened to beef.”

“I always called him ‘Chunky,’” Emily said. “But, I guess, that’s out the door now.”

There were no yells of Chunky on Saturday, but there was one guy shouting “Caesar salad!”

Johnston said Friday on TV that he was going to have that particular item for dinner and one fan ran with it. “He shouted it at me for like six holes, man” Johnston said. Such is the life of a cult figure.

Outside of that, the shouts weren’t overly original. Just lots and lots of BEEEEF!

“They sound like cows, really,” Emily said. “Like a mooooooo.”

Johnston had quite the following on Saturday. It got so dense after the chip-in at 13 that Emily cried out, “Mother of the Beef, mother of the Beef coming through!”

A herd of people trekked through the shoe-staining mud and under ever-present rain drops, dodging the occasional, hazardous umbrella. They cheered on their new leading man, whether he was making a putt, hitting a drive or exiting a porta-john. And he waved and smiled and gave a thumbs-up. Walking off the 16th green, he slapped hands with a kid as several fans broke attendance policy and recorded the moment on their phones.

“Oh, this is the best,” Johnston said. “Yeah, to have that reception is amazing. I just love it. I really do.”

Said Emily: “I think he remembers being a kid, looking up to the players and wanting autographs. It’s good fun for him now.”

So, too, is hanging out with his 5-year-old niece. They played cards on Thursday, a game called Top Trumps. We’ll let Uncle Beef, as Summer calls him and repeatedly exclaims during rounds, explain:

“You know how you get the cards and it would have like a tiger, and it would say, aggression 10, cuteness 1, and stuff like that. It has like different numbers on there and you have to pick one and then whatever cards the other person's got and whoever is ever higher basically wins and gets that card and go on to the next. It's just a proper kids game.”

On Friday, he read to Summer. “'Goldilocks and the Three Bears', or something like that,” he said.

“I think we’ll play Go Fish later [tonight].”

Summer jokes about Uncle Beef's beard, says it's time for a trim. It's been getting a bit shaggy lately, with his busy schedule, and, according to Emily, at least two bottles of beard oil have exploded in his travel bag.

All of the family time has relaxed Johnston and, at the same time, kept him focused. Emily could sense it Saturday morning, saying to their mother, “He’s on good form today. He’s in that competitive mode.”

As Johnston – Andrew, Uncle Beef, BEEEEEF, Chunky – was walking toward his tee shot off the right side of the fairway at 18 in the evening, seagulls flew overhead under a bruised sky that refused to yield to the sun all day. Drips of rain and windy chill persisted.

Summer hopped on her mother’s umbrella and Emily spun her around like a witch on a broom.

“Again,” Summer cried. “Again.”

Johnston hit his approach shot and then began his walk. He doffed his cap and waved, continued with the thumbs-up, embracing a sudden fame.

“This is absolutely amazing,” his mother said with that smile. “Very emotional.

“You hope that your kids will get to live their dreams. But you never really know if it will happen, do you?”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.