Caddie Billy Foster says his split with long term boss Lee Westwood is “gut wrenching”.
The break up was confirmed after the former world number one’s victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa where his girlfriend Helen Storey was on the bag.
It appears she may well be continuing with the job after Bingley St Ives member Foster revealed that Westwood has begun doing his own yardages.
Speaking to Yorkshire golfer immediately after the split was announced Foster said: “It’s gut wrenching as we are big friends, but situations change, and Lee has changed his outlook and there’s nothing I can do about that. “
Foster said that Westwood making him ‘basically just carry the bag’ created an “uncomfortable atmosphere” on the course.
“Ultimately it was no good for Lee and not fair on me either, so unfortunately the partnership had run its course and we both knew that. Times change. It has been a great 10 years of my life with Lee and we had many special times and successes together.”
The Yorkshireman was working with Lindrick member Westwood in his previous start at the Turkish Airlines Open and would have bagged around £100,000 had he stayed on another week for the Nedbank. Foster said, “I can only wish him good luck moving forward – although I do feel he could have waited more than a week before winning a million dollars!”
His interest in caddying was sparked when he watched the 1981 Lawrence Batley International at his home course when he was an apprentice joiner with his Dad and “getting sacked two or three times a week.”
“I caddied at Bingley for a while and decided to follow a few tournaments. I went to Fulford and got a job with Jesus Lopez, he was the next Seve at the time. I decided to take a six-week holiday to Spain for the Spanish, Sanyo and Portuguese Opens. While I was there, Hugh Baiocchi offered me a full-time job. I ditched the £25-a-week with my father and became a caddy.”
Times were tougher back then and he admits to sleeping in tents and sometimes bushes. “My first real cheque was in Portugal. We finished seventh, that was worth about £795 for Tony Johnstone and £135 for me. I had to find my flight money, accommodation, meals and everything else out of that cheque.”
After Baiocchi he saw success with Gordon Brand Junior before teaming up with Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Sergio Garcia. But his most enduring relationship was with Westwood.
Foster is arguably one of the greatest caddies of all time and given his record of success, it’s likely he will find another full-time bag for 2019 fairly quickly, with speculation already surfacing that maybe he will connect with Rory McIlroy in the New Year.
But Foster loves his Yorkshire base and McIlroy has already indicated that me may only play twice in Europe which would mean Billy spending the majority of next year Stateside.
He has appeared during Sky’s golf broadcasts, most notably during this year’s Masters where the combination of his Yorkshire wit and microscopic knowledge of Augusta National made interesting viewing. Many feel he is a perfect fit for an on-course role and he’s certainly not ruling that out.
“I’m definitely open to ideas outside of caddying,” he added.