Andrew Johnston will play in the Australian PGA. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Andrew Johnston will play in the Australian PGA. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Queensland sun set to roast Beef

WHAT'S hairy, has half-brown arms, a sun-starved torso and will be falling off a surfboard on the Gold Coast next month? B-E-E-E-F!

Golf's antidote to boring cardboard cut-outs is coming to a course near you or more specifically Royal Pines for the Australian PGA (November 29-December 2).

Andrew "Beef" Johnston is one of those rare sporting figures who proved just as engaging as his image when he hopped on the phone from Spain this week.

The Englishman who once used his driver to explode a hamburger from the tee for a gag will be as focused as anyone on winning the PGA.

He just doesn't see why that should ever be mutually exclusive from banter with his galleries, dancing on the green, autographing a beer belly on request or chuckling like he's having fun.

"Everyone is different and some guys on tour are genuinely quiet," Johnston said.

"I take my golf seriously and make sure I concentrate but if I see something funny happening I'm instantly attracted.

"I never had the intention of doing the 'entertainment side' but it's something I just do in the moment because I like to have fun on the course."

Andrew Johnston will bring plenty of character. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Andrew Johnston will bring plenty of character. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The lad from north London joked that he still feels a little scarred by Aussie culture after episodes of Neighbours "drove me crazy" as a kid because his sister loved the TV show.

"I know the Gold Coast has amazing beaches so I'm going to get on a surfboard, not for a long time, but I'm going to try," Johnston said.

"Suntan? I've got a shocking one with half-brown arms, a brown head and the rest is white, proper bad, so people are going to get a shock on the beach."

Johnston is driving it further, having fewer putts and hitting almost as many greens in regulation as 2016 when he won the Valderrama Open in Spain so he feels his best is close.

It's the first time he's played a big event in December which is a measure of Australia's appeal, organisers wooing him and working to get back to world No.74 from No.186.

He gave an inkling that it will always be tough luring top players to Australia's pinnacle events late in the year when golfers are heading into holidays.

"It's so tough looking into a schedule to decide where to play and many Europeans are looking to switch off after (the tour championship) in Dubai (in November)," Johnston said.

"Guys need that break after being hammered (physically) playing January to November so if it (the Australian season) was scheduled differently more would come down and play."

Playing Aussie events at another time of year is a simplistic throwaway line.

The truth is the golf calendar is crowded year round, Aussie events don't have the prizemoney to compete head-to-head and they bat above their weight with drawcards in their short November-December window.

Johnston has one strong Ashes-flavoured rivalry suggestion for World Cup organisers at Metropolitan Golf Club (November 22-25).

He's a big fan of partnering Aussies Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith with chest-beater Ian Poulter and his English teammate Tyrrell Hatton, both recent Ryder Cup heroes.

"It'd be a great thing with some good banter and if you played them together they'd play off that (Ashes feeling) really well," Johnston said.



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