Houdini acts can`t keep denying Westwood: Caddie

London: Lee Westwood has been criticised in some quarters for reaching the top of the rankings without winning a major but that does not worry the world number one, according to his caddie Billy Foster.

"In four out of his last five majors he`s finished in the top three and all he`s got to do is keep doing more of what he is doing," Foster told reporters in a telephone interview.

"Harry Houdini is not going to pitch up all the time like he did at the US Masters this year. What Phil Mickelson did to him by birdying the eighth, 12th, 13th, 15th and 18th in the final round (to win) -- that was unbelievable."

"People won`t keep doing that sort of thing to him in majors. All Lee can do is keep putting himself in position and his time will come," added the experienced Foster who is recognised as one of the best caddies in the game."

"He always seems to bounce back after a couple of days, that`s the beauty of Lee. He`s very down to earth and level headed and he doesn`t let things bother him too much."

Foster, who has also worked with Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia among others, said he and fellow Briton Westwood always made sure they had a good time on the course regardless of the situation.

"It`s like working for your best mate," said the 44-year-old caddie. "He is so relaxed out there."

"Certain golfers you don`t feel comfortable with, it`s all fairly intense and sometimes you can`t say what you want to say. But with Lee we have so much fun together," added Foster.

"He doesn`t really take things out on me on the golf course, 99.9 percent of the time he`s pretty relaxed. Now and again you have to shut up for a minute or so but then we get back to having a bit of a crack and some banter."

Foster has been working with Westwood for just over 18 months and there are times when he has to get serious and act as motivator in chief.

One of their best victories together came at the European Tour`s season-ending Dubai World Championship in 2009 when the caddie decided a bit of bullying was in order.

"It was the right time for me to say a few things to Lee, some of which I can`t repeat," said Foster.

"He was starting to doubt himself to a certain degree and I tried to get the mindset back to where it was 10 or 12 years previously when he used to dominate European golf and other players would say, `Oh, no, there`s freaking Westwood on the leaderboard again`.

"I tried to explain he had won more tournaments on his own than the three guys who were chasing him (Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Rory McIlroy) put together and it should be them who were afraid of him, not the other way round."

"It was time for him to start bullying them. It got inside his head and it had the right effect."

Foster, though, is equally aware there are times when Westwood plays so well he barely needs a bag-carrier.

"There is a lot of psychology behind the scenes, saying the right thing at the right time and also staying `schtum` (quiet) at times," he explained.

"I know there are some weeks when Lee could go out with his grandmother on his bag and he`d win but there are other weeks when you need your caddie behind you, especially in the Ryder Cup and at majors when the pressure is at its most intense."

"The secret is to slow things down. Players tend to rush things when they are under pressure but the caddie has to pull on the reins, make sure they limit their mistakes... and keep their heart rate down."

Then, when victory is secured, Foster celebrates in the time-honoured caddying tradition.

"Yeah, with plenty of ale," he said.

Bureau Report