SCOTTSDALE – Fans had a lot to cheer about on Friday, including the comfortable overcast weather. The greatest cheer, though, came on 18 when Andrew “Beef” Johnston (@BeefGolf) sealed the deal and made it to the weekend. The bearded, beer-loving, gregarious Englishman made the cut by carding birdies on the final two holes to finish at 1-under. Golf’s newest fan favorite began the day at 2-over, and it didn’t look promising after a couple early bogies left him at 4-over. But he bounced back with six birdies and just one more bogey, making an unlikely 12-footer for birdie on the drivable 17th, and a must-make 17-foot putt on 18 to earn his weekend tee time.
Watch the post-round video here:
Arby’s wisely stepped up as one of Beef’s corporate sponsors, and he surprised some lucky fans on Wednesday by personally delivering sponsor product to them.
“Yeah man, I just walked straight into a grandstand and started handing Arby’s out,” he laughed. “I think there were some out beef cheddar ones and some brisket. I took a big bite out of the last one myself.”
The Beef cult (maybe the female fans should be called Beef Patties) gained momentum when he was introduced to US audiences at the 2016 British Open Championship, where he finished 8th. Since then, he has been profiled by the Wall Street Journal (finding the best burgers in Manhattan), appeared on the cover of Golf Digest, and gained over 92,000 Twitter followers.
He has totally embraced the atmosphere at No. 16, and was forgiven his first round bogey when he gave fans arguably the coolest items ever – Arbys curly fry headcovers.
“But the problem is that I walked around the course hungry then,” he said.
He appreciates the fan support, especially when he’s grinding, like today.
“There are so many nice comments – “C’mon Beef, get it back on the next one,” “Keep going Beef” – and that means a lot to me as well. It’s so cool.”
Note & quotes
36-hole cut: 75 players at 1-under 141 from a field of 132 professionals.
Defending Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Hideki Matsuyama bogeyed the 18th hole to record a second round 68 and enter the weekend one stroke off the lead.
Last week’s winner of the Farmers Insurance Open Jon Rahm opened with rounds of 70-69 in his second start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In 2015, the Arizona State graduate finished T5 as an amateur.
Best round of the day – Jonas Blixt, -7, moving him into a tie for 10th.
Notables missing the cut – Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson ,Keegan Bradley, and Tony Finau.
Saturday is the 7th annual Green Out day. The tournament host Thunderbirds and title sponsor Waste Management encourage all fans attending the tournament to wear something green to honor and support the sustainability initiatives of the tournament. For every person who wears GREEN on Saturday, February 4, the tournament host Thunderbirds will donate some green to three deserving non-profit organizations with a sustainability focus.
Matt Kuchar (-9, T3)
- Not a lot of stress. I like my golf game that way. I’m awfully pleased. 36 holes, 9-under. It was good going around the course today.
- Hard to keep up with yesterday’s 7-under. I played amazing golf yesterday. I still feel like today was very steady golf.
- I came with little expectations. I came knowing it’s my first tournament of the year. I also feel I put quality time in at home and was as prepared as I could make myself to come out here.
- Bronze medal: The Olympics was just an absolute dream come true. It was a thrill. It’s the one thing I continue to carry with me, that bronze medal. It’s easier to travel with than most trophies or awards, and it’s been a fun thing to show off. People are really moved when they get a chance to see it.
Brendan Steele (-10, T1)
- I have holed a lot of putts. Been swinging pretty well over the last few weeks. Seeing the putts go in this week, I feel comfortable on the greens, so I think that’s showing in the scores.
- Course changes: I think the excitement level is still there, and they just toughened up some of the harder holes. I think the changes are all really good.
- The game is in a great place right now. You’ve obviously got Justin Thomas who’s been going crazy, and when he’s doing that, nobody can catch him. We’ve seen it from Jordan, Rory, Jason Day, obviously. It’s just about who’s got the game that week, and it’s pretty exciting.