Beef is dish of day as Johnston wows British Masters crowd
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[October 15, 2016]
By Tony Jimenez
WATFORD, England (Reuters) - Fan
favorite Andrew 'Beef' Johnston had the galleries eating out of the
palm of his hand with a buccaneering eight-birdie 65 in the British
Masters second round on Friday.
An 11,000 crowd turned up at The Grove and most seemed to be rooting
for the player affectionately known as 'Beef' after he surged to
within one stroke of leader and fellow Englishman Richard Bland
"The fans have been amazing," the bearded Johnston told reporters
after his 10-under tally of 132 earned a share of second position
alongside Swede Alex Noren (65).
"I have a good relationship with the crowds. I just have a good time
with them, all the kids, all the people, coming up and asking for
pictures and to sign stuff.
"Some guy last night asked me to sign his forehead so I put a big
'Beef' across it and took a picture," he said.
Johnston won a host of admirers around the world for the smiling way
he interacted with the fans while finishing eighth in the British
Open at Troon in July.
He may be an idiosyncratic showman but the 27-year-old can also
produce some golfing fireworks.
Johnston started at the 10th hole on Friday and three times made
inroads on par on his outward half before a crackerjack back nine
saw him pick up five birdies and two bogeys.
The world number 79 is now demanding the galleries continue their
vociferous support over the weekend.
"What I want to hear is 'Beef'," said Johnston whose one previous
European Tour victory came at the Spanish Open in April. "Just keep
it up because I'm loving it."
Fellow countryman Bland has waited a long time for his maiden win
but it may not be too much longer in arriving after he reeled off
seven birdies in a flawless effort.
"I'm just trying to stay aggressive and keep going for my shots,"
said the 43-year-old who has yet to drop a stroke this week.
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Andrew Johnston chips up on to the 17th green during the first round
of the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC - Lower
Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports
"I've holed out fantastically well, not only these last two days but
probably over the last three or four months. If I can keep that
going, hopefully I'll be there on Sunday."
Noren, one of the hottest players on the tour having won the
Scottish Open in July and last month's European Masters in
Switzerland, would have leapfrogged Bland at the top of the
leaderboard had he not double-bogeyed the ninth, his final hole.
The Swede, playing alongside Johnston, took three to reach the green
after an errant drive and then needed three putts from 15 feet.
English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Anthony Wall were in joint fourth
position on 133 along with Scott Jamieson of England.
Lee Westwood was among a group on 135 but fellow former world number
one and tournament host Luke Donald missed the cut.
"The crowds have been great, the course is in fantastic condition,
you should have no excuse," said Donald.
"The greens are absolutely perfect. Unfortunately I'll be watching
over the weekend and not playing which is disappointing."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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