Lee Westwood fires caddie Billy Foster
The relationship between a golfer and his caddie is one of the more interesting dynamics in professional sports. A few years ago, you never would have expected the amount of vitriol between Tiger Woods and Steve Williams, and despite what they say publicly right now, they wouldn’t be caught dead around each other. If you believe Woods, the two were never overly close, despite seeing each other away from the course all the time, and even showing up at each others weddings. The role of a caddie isn’t just about picking the correct clubs and giving out yardages. It’s about knowing the player you work for inside and out, and dealing with any problem that your occasionally petulant, millionaire boss will throw at you. Sometimes a player and a caddie work together for years. Jim Furyk and Mike “Fluff” Cowan have been together since 1999, while Jim Mackay has seen every peak and valley of Phil Mickelson’s career since first being on his bag in 1993. Other players, like Sergio Garcia, change caddies as often as their shoes.
So, I’m never surprised when I see that another caddie has been let go by a top player. According to Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail, Lee Westwood has decided to part ways with his longtime caddie, and good friend Billy Foster. Let’s make something clear about Foster: he’s not your average, run of the mill caddie. He was on the bag of Seve Ballesteros for nearly five years, winning eight times in that span near the end of the Spaniard’s incredible career. Ballesteros once went through a stretch of ten caddies in ten years, so you know that Foster must have been doing something right. (Editor’s Note: Seve may have been a little crazy.)
Where it gets interesting with Foster is that he’s been unable to perform his usual duties for Westwood since injuring his knee in April while playing in a soccer game. For Westwood to drop Foster at this point in his recovery seems a bit harsh considering he was expected to be healthy for the upcoming season. Factor in the close knit relationship between the two men, and the success they have enjoyed together on the course, and it’s a curious decision by the world’s fourth ranked golfer. In talking to Lawrenson, Foster referenced how difficult the last few months have been, saying:
“I’ve been in a dark tunnel. I’ve only started walking again these last two weeks, so to get the call from Lee just as I was starting to see the light again was unbelievably disappointing and made it harder to take.”
It’s the latest in a series of changes for Westwood, who turns 40 in a few months. He’s recently moved to the U.S., and earlier this year, he dismissed long-time coach Pete Cowen. His much ballyhooed move of bringing on short-game wiz Tony Johnstone didn’t work out either, and he has also apparently been shown the door.