The roar could be heard for hundreds of yards on the grounds at Royal Troon in Scotland. When Andrew Johnston holed a birdie putt on the first green of the British Open on Sunday, the gallery was stirred into a frenzy.
“Beef” was off to a roaring start, and there was a glimmer of hope that he might be the Open’s next Champion Golfer of the Year.
It wasn’t to be, as Johnston struggled in shooting a 2-over-par 73 that dropped him into solo eighth place with a 3-under total.
Still, in the last 200 yards of his walk up the 18th, Johnston heard a rousing ovation and the chants of “Beef! Beef! Beef!” He took off his hat and raised his arms triumphantly.
“I’ll remember it forever,” said the 27-year-old former mini-tour player from North London.
“It was probably slightly disappointing the way I played,” Johnston said. “I started off pretty good, but I don’t think my short game was good enough today. I didn’t putt that well. There was a better score to be hand, but I gave it my best and that’s what I come off with — no regrets.”
Stenson dedicates win
In his remarks at the awards ceremony, Henrik Stenson said he was dedicating his win to an American friend, Mike Gerbich, who died of cancer at age 74 on Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Stenson posted a picture on Instagram of himself, looking very young, posed with Gerbich at a golf outing.
The two met in Dubai years ago.
“He was a very keen golfer and a great man,” Stenson said in his press conference. “He’s always been there as a big supporter of mine, and in good days and bad days he always sent me messages and been out at some events.”
Stricker rocks at 49
Steve Stricker may be playing a limited schedule at the age of 49, but he’s showing no signs of letting up competitively. He shot 69 in the final round – with a double-bogey on the par-3 17th -- and finished alone in fourth place at 5 under.
As a top-10 finisher, Stricker will be invited back to the British Open next year. It also ensures his return to the Masters.
“It’s a lot of spinoffs,” Stricker said. “That’s the great thing about playing golf out here professionally. There are a lot of carrots dangling. When you’re playing well, you’re rewarded and you get to do some pretty cool things.”
Stricker tied for second in June in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. His best finish in a major is second in the 1998 PGA Championship.
Monty’s quick round
Troon member Colin Montgomerie had a strange final round. Last in the field after Saturday, Montgomerie was the first off the tee on Sunday and played with a marker, Troon’s head pro. He had been honored to be the first player off the tee on Thursday morning.
On Sunday, he played in 2 hours, 50 minutes, shot 76 and finished at 17 over.
“Everyone in the scorer’s tent and even our own scorer said that was refreshing, and it’s the way to play golf,” Montgomerie said.
“I’m tired now, very tired,” the 53-year-old said. “I’ve been the leader in the clubhouse again – second time this week.”
Among the top-four ranked players in the world, Rory McIlroy fared the best. He closed with a 67 and tied for fifth at 4 under.
A year after coming within one shot of a playoff in the Open, Jordan Spieth tied for 30th. He shot his best score of the week on Sunday with 68. World No. 1 Jason Day (71) tied for 22nd at 1 over.
The “Postage Stamp” par-3 eighth hole wasn’t such a beast. It ranked as only the 11th-hardest hole for the week. There were 11 double-bogeys and 10 “others” scored in four rounds. Matt Kuchar’s 7 on Sunday tied for the second-highest score at the eighth since 1997.