PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – Lee Westwood admits his caddie knows little about golf but that’s alright because the person carrying his bag around the Royal Portrush links is his girlfriend Helen Storey.
The chemistry appears to be working wonders too, with former world number one Westwood right in the British Open mix as he tries to win a long-overdue first major at the age 46.
The Englishman followed up his opening round 68 with a four-under 67 on Friday to put himself at seven under, just two behind leader Shane Lowry who was yet to finish his round.
With 18 top-10 finishes in majors, it is familiar territory for Westwood. But this is the first major in which Storey has carried his bag — a duty she performed when Westwood broke his four-year winless drought in South Africa late last year.
Westwood’s son Sam sometimes caddies’s for his father but was unavailable this week, meaning Storey got the call.
“Helen is doing it this week. Sam couldn’t make it this week. Obviously I get on well with Helen. She doesn’t know too much about golf but she knows a lot about the way my mind works,” Westwood told reporters.
“She keeps me in a good frame of mind and focusing on the right things at the right time. There’s more to the caddying than carrying and getting the wind direction.
“I enjoy doing it all myself. Get the yardage, pull the club, it’s all my responsibility, and I’m a hundred percent clear in my mind what I’m doing.”
After the pressure of so-often being touted as an Open contender only to fall just short, like in 2010 when he was second and in 2013 at Muirfield when he looked set to win before falling back, Westwood says she makes his rounds more fun.
“You’d be surprised the sort of things we talk about out there,” he said. “Where we’re going on holiday. Whether there’s a nail file in the bag.
“The favourite was from Denmark the first week she caddied. I took out a divot because it was big and soft and she’s walking back with the divot, and I said, What’s wrong? She said, I hope there’s not a worm in this.
“It makes me smile. It’s a big advantage.”
At the Open there are also some tasks she does not need to do. “She’s delighted because they’ve got their own rakers. She doesn’t have to rake the bunkers,” he said.
With a weekend challenge brewing, Westwood’s new carefree approach could make him dangerous.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” he said.
“Just go home and have dinner, go on holiday the next week. Do the same things, life won’t change.
“I haven’t got any expectations. I’m just swinging quite well at the moment.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)