Andrew Johnston is affectionately known as ‘Beef’ and the Englishman will return to The European Tour next season as a lean, mean, winning machine after he claimed the title as 2014 European Challenge Tour Number One at the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club.
The 25 year old put the cherry on the cake of a career-changing season in fitting fashion, adding another top ten finish to his repertoire at the season-ending spectacle in Dubai to rubber-stamp his place at the top of the Rankings.
It was a typically efficient display from the Londoner, who in 2014 has shown that behind his bubbly persona and ever-present smile there is a burning desire to make it on the world stage.
Johnston certainly has the makings of a real fan favourite, an infectiously positive character who broke on to the scene in the 2011 Challenge Tour season when he came from nowhere to secure the 15th card on offer in the Rankings courtesy of a tied third place finish at the prestigious season finale.
Back then he was a breath of fresh air, brimming with enthusiasm, pumping his first and roaring at every holed putt while cutting an awe-struck figure off the course, just taking everything in as he completed a meteoric rise to the top of the game.
Fast forward three years and Beef looks a different beast. Johnston has been working hard on his physique, has added two Challenge Tour titles to his trophy cabinet and is now ready to take on the world’s elite in The 2015 Race to Dubai.
“It feels awesome to be Number One,” said the North Middlesex player. “It’s been a great finish to the year here and it’s so good to finish Number One. Coming into this week I hadn’t practiced much because I was injured and it was quite frustrating so to finish top ten was great.
“I battled pretty well out there for the four days and never gave up so that was a good feeling and I never thought I would be in this position. You practice and you train hard but you don’t go into a season expecting to come out Number One.
“You want to have your separate goals as the year goes on, the first one was to get into the Rolex Trophy and then just to get to the Grand Final and then try get the card, but you never expect to be here in this position.
“I’m looking forward to everything about The European Tour and getting out to play in those great tournaments. There are a lot more cameras around, a lot more people and a lot more noise and I think 2012 was just about getting used to that.
“When I played Made in Denmark and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this year, I felt a lot more comfortable and just a lot more relaxed.
“I think I’m more assured of my game and trust my game a bit more. I’ve learned so much over the last couple of years and that experience really helps. I’m a lot calmer out there now and don’t panic as much.”
It has been a difficult journey for Johnston since failing to retain his card for The European Tour in 2012, after a wrist injury side-lined him for over six months, but he believes it has made him a stronger character and, following a gruelling training regime last winter, he has never felt in better nick.
“There were some massive lows,” he said. “It was so frustrating and I got a bit down on myself. Everyone was telling me everything would be alright and I was being told I would be OK in a couple of weeks and then a couple of weeks passed and it wasn’t. It went on like that for a while.
“It was one hard battle of a year, but I think I learned a lot from it, to dig deep every week, because I wasn’t playing well but I got some good results. It was tough just to keep my Challenge Tour card that year.
“You just have to have a really good think about what you’re going to do and when you’ve decided you need to stick to it and trust it.
“It’s the same as on the course, you stick to a certain swing or feeling you’ve got and just trust it for that week. I think it’s the same idea.
“It was mostly just hard training over the winter, I didn’t take a month off or anything like that. I put the work in and got a new personal trainer and he had me working nearly every day and sorted out my diet, which was pretty bad before then!
“He’s built me up and keeps pushing me and my body feels good. I feel a lot more athletic and powerful through the ball and I’m nowhere near as tired as well so that’s made a massive difference. I still have a lot of work to do but I’m on the right track.
“You have to believe you can win on The European Tour, put yourself in the position and give yourself the chance and hope it happens.”
After a life-changing season on the Challenge Tour, Beef is primed and ready for the pressure cooker of The European Tour. This man is now, quite simply, a different beast.
Johnston wins again
July 27, 2014
Johnston Crowned Scottish Hydro Champion
June 29, 2014
Johnston top of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit after 2nd place finish at the Kazakhstan Open