Andrew Johnston: 'If I win the U.S. Open, I'll be drunk for a week'

Meet Andrew Johnston, everyone's new favourite golfer.

The man they call "Beef" -- a nickname from when he was a child -- raised eyebrows and smiles across the golfing globe when he won his maiden European Tour title at the Spanish Open in April before proudly declaring he was off to his home golf club of North Middlesex in London "to get hammered."

So when ESPN called the chipper Londoner for a chat, the opening question was an easy one. The answer was slightly surprising.

"We just wanted to get some dinner and chill out," he says. "We had a bottle of Champagne at Valderrama, but everyone was just mentally and emotionally tired."

"So we decided to wait until we got back to England and sort the party out.

"Everyone was there," Johnston says. "It was a brilliant night. The chef at North Mid did a Jamaican theme; I must have eaten four plates of her food while drinking copious amounts of sangria."

Johnston's victory in Valderrama kick-started a run that saw him finish in the top 10 at the BMW PGA Championship before earning a U.S. Open debut in a qualifier at England's Walton Heath. And he couldn't have asked for a more difficult place to play his first round of competitive golf on American soil, as Oakmont prepares to bring the very best in the game to their knees. But Johnston doesn't see it this way. In fact, he describes it as "good fun".

"I can't wait," he says. "It is going to be brutal, but you know what you're going to get at somewhere like Oakmont, but I'll treat it like any other tournament. If I play well, great. If not, it isn't the end of the world. We've got Germany the week after, then the Bridgestone Invitational the week after that, so whether we do good or bad, we just go on to the next one. That's the mindset I'm taking to Oakmont."

That and having fun. Of course, those who follow the European Tour closely will be well aware of Johnston and his love of "messing around," as he calls it, on and off the golf course.

There was the time he hit a hole-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship to win a brand-new sports car from the sponsor -- a feat he celebrated with a running chest bump with a friend in the gallery. (Incidentally, he sold the car. "I said I wanted to keep it and my manager just turned to me and said, "Come on, use your brain.")

Then there was the time he holed out for an eagle 2 on 18 at the Scottish Open while playing alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez before imitating the enigmatic Spaniard's sword-sheathing dance celebration.

In a sport that can still be regarded as stuffy and unwelcoming, Johnston provides a breath of fresh air as he interacts with and entertains those in the galleries.

"Everyone has a different personality," he explains. "Some players are more quiet or more intense on the course, but I enjoy it.

"If I get a hole-in-one or hole an approach for eagle, that's pretty rare. Even when I'm playing with my mates at North Mid, we'll celebrate with chest bumps and be a bit stupid. I mess around with my friends, so if I do hit a good shot in a tournament, I'll enjoy it there too. I know everyone's different, but I think they are special moments and should be celebrated as such."

Oakmont provides Johnston with his first taste of competitive golf on American soil. And he's looking forward to getting in amongst the crowds and their infamous cries of "Mashed potato!"

"We'll have some fun," he says. "I enjoy the interaction with the fans. It's nice when you get good feedback. It doesn't matter who they are or where they're from, if they talk to me while I'm playing I'll talk back. That's how it is. We're all people.

"I've had a good reception on Twitter. I think they're all getting to know that I love barbecue food -- so they're inviting me down to Texas and all sorts! I'm going to send out a few tweets to try and find out the best places to eat."

One thing's for sure: Johnston is expecting to get a hard time for his beard. He laughs again and plans his response carefully.

"I had a couple of attempts at growing it in the past, and it gets to a certain length and I just think it looks stupid," he says. "Then, last year at the Portugal Masters, it was a little bit long and a few of the players and caddies made passing comments -- 'Oh my God, what is that on your face?' I just ended up growing it as a bit of banter. It's given me a bit of motivation to keep it.

"I was actually going to get rid of it after Spain, as it was irritating me, but after the win I got loads of comments on social media saying it's bad for the game to have a beard. So that made me decide to keep it."

"I got a lot of stick for the beard so I grew it out for banter." Andrew Johnston

Beard or no beard, Johnston already knows how he will celebrate if he pulls off the unlikeliest of wins at the U.S. Open.

"Oh I'd go big," he says, laughing. "I'll probably be drunk for a week."

But amid the fun and games, there is a serious side to the Londoner. The Spanish Open win earned him his European Tour card until 2018, though he has no interest in resting on his laurels.

"I'm just going to go tournament to tournament and see what happens," he says. "You can start overthinking about these things and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.

"Getting the win was great, but now it's in the past and we have to keep looking forward and maintain the hunger to go and do it again. There are so many good players out there that if you sit back and relax you aren't getting anywhere."

And the Ryder Cup? "I'm so far down the qualification list, I'm not really thinking about [it]," he says.

Johnston, currently 23rd on the European points list to qualify for Hazeltine, will need a formidable summer to make captain Darren Clarke's team. But if the captain needs someone to plan the victory party should they win, there are worse people he can call.