PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Lee Westwood knew he made solid contact from the fairway bunker on No. 13. He just needed some visual evidence.
“I don’t see it,” he said as the ball was sailing toward the green.
Westwood’s caddie, Helen Storey, who doubles as his wife, stepped in and pointed out the white dot about 19 feet from the pin. The wedge went back into the bag, Helen lifted it over her shoulders, and the couple headed toward the green.
“It’s quite easy for me, I work out nearly every day,” said Helen, who has been carrying Westwood’s bag for four years, occasionally getting a break from Lee’s son, Sam.
“It’s heavier when we’re not having such a good day. When we’re having a great day, it’s really light and it’s a lot of fun.”
Lee Westwood and Helen Storey, both from England, currently hold the title of golf’s royal couple. Helen, 45, started carrying Lee’s bag in 2018.
The gig became more permanent over the years and Helen’s popularity soared when she was on the bag last year for Westwood’s back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship, which had nothing to do with Westwood proposing to Helen and the couple being married last summer.
Lee Westwood and his wife/caddie Helen Storey choose a club on the seventh tee during second round action of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Jeff Romance, Palm Beach Post.
Helen was given a well-deserved week off following Lee’s two second-place finishes 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 just too much.”
Helen is 5-foot-8 inches, 45 years old, and concedes nothing to her bigger, stronger male counterparts. She neither asks for, nor receives, any breaks or special treatment. A fitness instructor, she lifts weights, does CrossFit, “anything to make me strong. I’m not in it to be skinny.”
The bag is a standard Tour bag, weighing 40 pounds, and can be weighted down a bit by some of Lee’s personal items he sticks in a pouch of which she said, “I really want to ditch sometimes.”
“I couldn’t do it,” Westwood, 48, said about his wife’s stamina after his even-par 70 Friday at the Honda Classic, which puts him at 1-under entering the weekend.
“I walked around Augusta last year, it’s so hilly. I came out of it worn out. She’s up and down the hills. She’s a fit lady.”
But just barely for the eighth hole at the Masters, a par 5 that Zach Johnson once said 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’s heaving on your chest.”
Lee Westwood and his wife and caddie Laurae Coltart Westwood line up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Jim Rassol, Palm Beach Post.
Helen is not your traditional caddie. Westwood is a former No. 1 in the world. He has hoisted 42 international tournament trophies and two on the PGA Tour. He is not looking for advice on whether to use a 6-iron or 7-iron into the wind on No. 17 at PGA National, or what it will take to clear the water on his second shot at No. 16.
“I sometimes feel guys rely on the caddie too much for their opinion,” Westwood said. “The guy holding the club is a professional. He’s the one that goes out there and plays his game in a particular way. (He) stands over the ball. He might mentally visualize something in a completely different way to what their caddie is seeing.”
Westwood wants nobody to blame but himself. He selects his own clubs and even walks the course for the yardage during pro-am events and practice rounds. Helen does not carry a yardage book.
“He doesn’t like being told what to do,” Helen said. “If he makes a decision and it’s wrong or he makes a decision and it’s right he has to own it. He can only be upset with himself.”
Helen, though, has been taking notes and in an attempt to keep the round loose, 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’s been on the bag, she’s getting better at that,” Westwood said.
That, and playing to the crowd, which she did masterfully Thursday late in the day.
As Westwood’s group approached the 17th green, Storey heard the crowd chanting and knew this had nothing to do with who might sink a birdie putt.
Bets were being placed. Money was passing hands. The wager: Which caddie would be the first to step onto the green, the one wearing the red, white or blue bib?
“It was like, ‘c’mon lads, who’s going to step on it first?’” Storey said to her fellow caddies. “So we try to get there together and mess with them.”
As Storey and Trey Mullinax’s caddie approached the green, both stopped just short and raised one foot. With her foot hovering over the green, and the anticipation from the stadium seats building, Storey put it down first.
Everyone who bet on “red” let out a cheer.
“We try and have fun all the time,” she said. “When it stops being fun it’s not worth it.”