Lee Westwood is breaking the golden rule of mixing business with pleasure – and reaping the benefits.
The 46-year-old’s girlfriend Helen Storey has been working as his caddie at a major tournament for the first time in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Westwood revealed Storey knows just how to keep him calm and focused, and the former world number one has promptly hit form.
The Worksop native shot 67 on Friday to add to Thursday’s 68 for a seven under score to sneak into contention for that elusive maiden major crown.
“Helen said she’d love to do it and I said I’d love her to do it, so that was a very easy decision,” said Westwood, happy to be light-hearted as well as serious when discussing their working partnership.
“It’s no mean feat carrying that golf bag around, especially in this weather, because it is fully loaded. I don’t give her an easy break or anything!
“She’s delighted to be caddying at a major because she doesn’t have to rake the bunkers and get sand on her trainers!
“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, so she keeps me in a good frame of mind, and keeps me focused on the right things at the right times.
“There’s more to caddying than working out the yardages and checking the wind.
“I enjoy doing all those things myself. I have to get things clear in my own mind.
“You’d be surprised the sorts of things we talk about out there; dinner, where we’re going to eat tonight, when we’re going on holiday – whether there’s a nail file in the bag!
“Our favourite one was the first week she caddied for me, I took out a divot so big that when she put it back she said ‘I hope there’s not a worm in there’.”
Westwood carries an unwanted record of nine top-three finishes without ever winning a major, with the 2016 Masters being his last near-miss.
The Englishman would become the oldest first-time major winner should he prevail this week, but insisted he is entirely disinterested in any such thoughts.
“I’m playing well, I’m more relaxed,” said Westwood.
“I literally don’t care. I just go out there and have fun.
“I’m 46 and still competing with these young lads. There’s no pressure on me.
“If you play well you get yourself chances at majors.
“But there’s too much ground to cover before Sunday night before any of that, there’s a long way to go.
“Over the years I’ve been a very good player and I’ve been in lots of good situations lots of time. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”