PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Lee Westwood knew he made solid contact from the fairway bunker on No. 13. He just needed visual evidence.
“I don’t see it,” he said as the ball sailed to the green.
Westwood caddy Helen Storey, who is also his wife, stepped in and pointed to the white spot about 19 feet from the spit. The wedge went back into the bag, Helen lifted it over her shoulders and the pair walked to the green.
“It’s pretty easy for me, I train almost every day,” said Helen, who has carried Westwood’s bag for four years, occasionally getting a break from Lee’s son Sam.
“It’s heavier when you don’t have such a good day. When you have a good day, it’s really light and it’s a lot of fun.
Lee Westwood and Helen Storey, both of England, currently hold the title of golf’s royal couple. Helen, 45, started carrying Lee’s bag in 2018.
The gig has become more permanent over the years and Helen’s popularity skyrocketed when she was on the sack last year for Westwood’s second consecutive finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship, which had nothing to do with Westwood’s proposal of Helen and the couple getting married last summer.
Lee Westwood and his wife/caddie Helen Storey pick a club on the seventh tee during the second round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Jeff Romance, Palm Post Beach.
Helen had a well deserved week off after Lee’s two second places and Sam took over for the Honda Classic. Lee missed the cut, insisting it had nothing to do with who was on his bag.
“I probably shouldn’t have played,” he said. “It was too much.”
Helen is 5ft 8in, 45 years old and does not concede anything to her taller and stronger male counterparts. She neither asks for nor receives a break or special treatment. A fitness instructor, she lifts weights, does CrossFit, “everything to make me strong. I’m not here to be skinny.
The bag is a standard Tour bag, weighing 40 pounds, and can be weighed down a bit by some of Lee’s personal items that he sticks in a pouch that she said, “I really want to give up sometimes.”
“I couldn’t do it,” Westwood, 48, said of his wife’s stamina after her par 70 Friday at the Honda Classic, which puts him 1 under going into the weekend.
“I walked around Augusta last year, it’s so hilly. I came out exhausted. She goes up and down the hills. She’s a fit woman.
But barely for the eighth hole of the Masters, a par 5 which Zach Johnson says should include an elevator.
“I’m a fit person,” she said. “But when I get to the top (at No. 8) I feel like I’ve smoked 40 (cigarettes) a day. It squeezes your chest.
Lee Westwood and his wife and caddy Laurae Coltart Westwood line up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Jim Rassol, Post of Palm Beach.
Helen is not your traditional caddy. Westwood is a former world No. 1. He has hoisted 42 international tournament trophies and two on the PGA Tour. He’s not looking for advice on whether to use a 6 or 7 iron in the wind on the No. 17 at PGA National, or what it will take to clear the water on his second shot at No. 16. .
“I sometimes feel like guys rely too much on the caddy for their opinion,” Westwood said. “The guy running the club is a professional. He is the one who goes out and plays his game in a particular way. (He) stands above the ball. He might mentally visualize something in a completely different way than their younger sibling sees.
Westwood doesn’t want anyone else to blame but himself. He picks his own clubs and even walks the course for yardage at pro-am events and practice rounds. Helen does not have a distance book.
“He doesn’t like being told what to do,” Helen said. “If he makes a decision and it’s wrong or if he makes a decision and it’s right, he has to own it. He can only be angry with himself.
Helen, however, has taken notes and, in an effort to keep the rounds free, they play a game she calls “Guess the Club”. She tries to guess what Lee is about to pull out of the bag.
“I’m wrong more than I’m right,” she said.
“The longer she was on the bag, the better she got,” Westwood said.
That, and playing in front of the crowd, which she did brilliantly at the end of the day on Thursday.
As the Westwood group approached the 17th green, Storey heard the crowd chanting and knew it had nothing to do with who could land a birdie putt.
Bets were in progress. The money passed through the hands. The bet: Which caddy would be the first to hit the green, the one wearing the red, white or blue bib?
“It was like, ‘Come on guys, who’s going to step on it first?'” Storey told his fellow caddies. “So we try to get there together and play with them.”
As Storey and Trey Mullinax’s caddy approached the green, both stopped short and lifted a foot. With his foot hovering over the green and the anticipation of the stadium seating building, Storey put it down first.
Everyone who bet on “red” let out cheers.
“We try to have fun all the time,” she said. “When it stops being fun, it’s not worth it.”