The Open 2016: Andrew 'Beef' Johnston maintains belief at Royal Troon

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Royal Troon
The 145th Open Championship
Venue: Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland Dates: 14-17 July
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV and online, listen live on BBC Radio 5 live and follow live text on the BBC Sport website. Click here for full details

Andrew Johnston has delighted fans at The Open with his cheerful demeanour and says he will continue to do so when chasing the Claret Jug on Sunday.

The Englishman high-fived spectators as he walked down the 18th and his one-under 70 left him on five under, seven adrift of leader Henrik Stenson.

"It's been amazing," said the 27-year-old. "It's been such great fun.

"The two in front are quite far ahead. But you can dream. We'll just have to go out and see what happens."

The two in front at Royal Troon are Swede Stenson, who is chasing his first Open title, and American Phil Mickelson, second on 11 under.

Nicknamed 'Beef' while playing junior golf, affable Londoner Johnston will play alongside American Bill Haas, who is six under, in the penultimate pairing on Sunday.

Playing in only his second Open, the hugely entertaining Johnston's rapidly growing popularity is down to his unique interaction with the crowds, as well as the media.

The American press in particular have taken a real shine to him, concentrating on his nightly meal plans.

Johnston, who is the leading Englishman, said: "When I was asked on TV on Friday what I was going to have for tea, I said 'Caesar salad', so I had one bloke screaming 'Caesar salad' at me for the first six holes. It was hilarious.

"Actually, I had a pizza in the end. Just a 10-inch one. I like Caesar salad. I just don't tend to choose it."

But their line of questioning that he might be a bit of a 'salad dodger', when asking about the size of the pizza he'd had, got perhaps a bit too personal at one point.

One asked: "How much do you weigh?"

A surprised but nonetheless sportingly unflustered, Johnston brought the house down by replying: "I don't know. Do you want to pick me up?"

The daily cries of 'Beeef' whenever he holes a putt or plays a good shot have acted as a catalyst.

"I guess I'm just a down-to-earth bloke who likes to talk to people. You want people to go home with good memories. I'll chat to anyone from anywhere, as long as they're nice people who are nice to me."

Who is 'Beef'?

  • Ranked 104th in the world.
  • Given the nickname Beef by one of his friends when he was younger who said his hair "looked like a big piece of beef"
  • Won the Spanish Open in April, his first European tour win and then declared: "I can't wait to get hammered"
  • Member of North Middlesex Golf Club
  • Scored a hole-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship in May 2015 to win a car and celebrated on the tee by chest bumping a mate
  • Drove a beefburger on the driving range at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
  • Arsenal fan
Andrew Johnston
Johnston won the Spanish Open in April, his first European Tour title

Johnston not afraid to get personal

The chirpy, lovable Johnston, who comes from a quarter Jamaican background, has already made it clear that he will answer a question on virtually any subject with a smile on his face.

On his beard, he admitted that his girlfriend "wants me to shave it off, as it's getting a bit long".

He added: "I'll have a tidy-up next week. I've been growing it since the Portugal Masters last October."

On reading bedtime stories and playing games with his niece, who is over from Florida with his sister, he said: "They wanted to come over and see me play in France and I went to the Bridgestone Invitational instead.

"But then I got her into the US Open and she's come here too, so I think she's had a good deal."

He also admitted that he almost welled up "when I chipped in at 14" because he could see his mum crying.

"That got me going. I had to turn away, and say to myself: "Don't look at mum."

How to Beef up your bank balance

Johnston's biggest career pay cheque was the £333,330 he picked up for winning the Spanish Open in May.

If he can finish fourth or higher on Sunday, he will better that.

The prize pot at Royal Troon offers £337,000 for fourth, £433,000 for third, £675,000 for second, and a winner's cheque of £1.175m.

Although none of that would compare, of course, to winning the silver Claret Jug.

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