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The Open: Cult figure Andrew Johnston is playing his cards right

By Carl Markham

Published 16/07/2016

Bearded wonder: Andrew Johnston
Bearded wonder: Andrew Johnston

England's Andrew 'Beef' Johnston has the perfect way to take his mind off the prospect of contending at the Open Championship... he plays Top Trumps with his niece.

The 27-year-old Londoner has become a cult figure with his large frame, equally large beard and happy-go-lucky approach as a relative latecomer to the upper echelons of the game.

As a result Johnston has managed to stay grounded while enjoying his new-found fame and he has five-year-old Summer to thank for helping with that.

After shooting back-to-back 69s for a four-under total, more than good enough for a place on the first page of the leaderboard, the 2014 Challenge Tour graduate guaranteed himself a Saturday afternoon start time.

Asked how he planned to kill the time up to that point, Johnston, who won his first European Tour event at the Spanish Open in April, said: "About 20 cups of tea maybe, watch a bit of it (the golf on television).

"My mum, sister and niece are over so I'll probably be playing Top Trumps cats with my niece. She hammered me on that yesterday so I want to get her back.

"There are all sorts of different cats, they've got tigers in there and stuff, but she knows all the cards."

While she is only young, his niece is following Johnston around the course.

"I can hear her shouting out 'Uncle Beef' now nearly every hole. She came out with 'Beef to the rescue' today. She cracks me up."

It is that down-to-earth demeanour and likeable character which has made 'Beef' a firm crowd favourite.

It has also led to some strange sights with some people waving burgers at him as he walked down the 15th hole.

"I didn't see it. That's amazing! I love that," said Johnston. "As a kid I dreamt of playing in these events and people shouting your name. I absolutely love it."

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