Golf with a side of Beef

John Patrick-Idaho Sports Talk Producer @JPktik

No offense to 2016 Albertsons Boise Open Michael Thompson. He won the tournament, but the week belonged to someone else. Andrew “Beef” Johnston became the people’s champion. The English golfer, who burst onto the scene this past year, was the main attraction. He may go down as the most popular player to tee it up in the history of the 27 year-old tournament.

What’s not to like about Beef? His sponsor is Arby’s. His beard looks like something out of a Geico Caveman commercial. He gives thumbs up to his adoring fans, and his personality is infectious. He pulls out his driver when other golfers are playing for position. His PGA tour profile lists him at five feet 11 inches, 212 pounds. That may be a bit generous with his height, and a little lacking with his weight. In his post-round interview Friday with The Golf Channel, he gave a shout-out to Rick’s Press Room Grill in Meridian while endorsing their pork chop.

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I followed Beef’s group on Saturday at Hillcrest Country Club. The crowds grew with each hole. Fans would yell “Beef” after nearly every shot. After he finished putting out on number nine, some kids asked for his autograph. He told them he would give it to them after his round. “I will sign them all!” He said. And that’s exactly what he did. He autographed hats, ticket stubs, posters and took selfies with anyone who asked. No one left without a piece of Beef, myself included.

In the end, Beef’s lead after two rounds slipped away over the weekend. He finished in fourth place, yet still earned his PGA Tour card for next season. That was his goal. In the process he made a lot of new fans who will remember this tournament as the “Year of Beef.”