Beef 3-wood

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Beef 3-wood

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Englishman Andrew “Beef” Johnston felt as if his game was in good shape heading into the RSM Classic, and he had some high hopes.

Instead, he struggled miserably for two days, shooting 75-77 and missing the cut by miles in his final PGA Tour start of the season. It ended a frustrating 2017, during which his best showing was a tie for 10th in Puerto Rico.

It was enough to make a man snap, which, on the bright side, would end up making one veteran photo snapper’s day.

Johnston tugged a tee shot with a 3-wood into the native area on the left side of the par-4 fourth hole on Seaside (his 13th of the day), and his club wasn’t very far behind the golf ball. He angrily helicoptered it into a marshy area, presumably never to be seen again. (He’d go on to make triple bogey on the hole.)

Eventual tournament leader Austin Cook, playing an adjacent hole, watched the whole scene unfold and had a relatively good idea where Johnston’s club toss came to rest; he tossed a ball in the general direction, leading PGA Tour photographer Stan Badz to wade in and fetch it. At first, when Badz saw the reeds of wild native grass laying down not far from the club, he thought it meant a gator could be nearby. But he found the club, and when Badz went to return the Titleist 3-wood to Johnston, Johnston did a gracious thing: He told Badz to keep it.

“Yeah, I lost two clubs today, a 3-wood and a 9-iron,” Johnston said. “I chucked the 3-wood in there (into the marshy area) and obviously I shouldn’t do it … but I was just … it broke me today. It really did. It was one of those things, it just broke me.

“He (Badz) went in there and got it, and I was like, ‘No, you go ahead and have that …’ ”

When Johnston teed off on the next hole, he then realized he still had the headcover to the 3-wood. So he walked over and gave THAT to Badz, too.

“It was the least I could do,” Johnston shrugged.

Stan Badz with Andrew “Beef” Johnston’s 3-wood (Jeff Babineau/Golfweek)

Give this to Beef: After a rough couple of days, he still managed to smile, and that’s why the man is so loved. What’s up next for him? Well, he, fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (who is contending in Dubai), and a few of their friends and significant others are off to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to have some downtime fun.

What’s on Beef’s vacation docket?

“Chill out, man. I’m looking forward to that,” Johnston said. “Maybe do a little bit of fishing, see the ruins, just hang out.”

Could this party in Mexico rival the famously wild Spring Break 2K16/Spring Break 2K17 Bahamas exploits of Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman?

Be warned. As he headed for his car, Beef flashed a devilish smile.

“There will be no comparison,” he said. “You’ll find out.”

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One of the beautiful things about professional golf is meritocracy of it all. There are no teams that can sign or cut you; there are no guaranteed contracts. You’re paid according to how high up the leaderboard you finish, nothing more and nothing less.

That attitude extends into qualifying, too. Players on both the European and PGA Tours land their place among golf’s elite, they’re forced to earn their place through Qualifying School – or “Q School.” It’s a everything-on-the-line, high stakes, pressure-packed tournament.

Jigger Thomson was among the lucky few to make through this year’s contest, and his reaction afterward tells the whole story. The emotion when he sees his father awaiting him off the final green just pours through them both.

Better grab the tissues before wtching this one…