Billy Foster, one of golf’s best-known caddies, has described not being able to go back alongside Lee Westwood when he recovers fitness as “unbelievably disappointing”.

The world No 4 has told Bingley St Ives member Foster that he is sticking with Zimbabwean Mike Kerr going into next season.

Keighley-born Foster, alongside Westwood in his rise to the top of the rankings, has needed two operations since suffering a cruciate knee injury during a soccer kickabout in America in May.

“It’s been very difficult these last six months - I’ve been in a dark tunnel,” said Foster.

“I’ve only started walking again these last two weeks, so to get the call from Lee just as I was starting to see the light again was unbelievably disappointing and made it harder to take.

“We had such a laugh together, have been great mates and were very successful, but it’s a tough game for caddies and I’ve just to focus on getting myself right.

“I’m a strong character and I’ll be fine - I know I will be - but all this because of a freak accident. I wasn’t even playing in the game when it happened.”

Foster chose not to be part of a caddie side against a local team in North Carolina, but was there to watch and went on the pitch during the warm-up.

“My foot went in a hole and you could hear the crack 20 yards away.”

Kerr is Westwood’s third caddie since then. They linked up in August after his missed cut at the USPGA Championship, which also resulted in him parting company with coach Pete Cowen.

Westwood’s manager Andrew “Chubby” Chandler” said: “Lee is at that stage of his career where he has to be a little bit selfish.

“Billy hopes to be fit enough at the start of next year to caddie for one week and then have one week off, but Lee is playing six tournaments in a row starting in Dubai next February.”

As soon as he proves he is fit again, Foster should be much in demand. His previous bosses include Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and even Tiger Woods at the 2005 Presidents Cup when Steve Williams was unavailable.

Westwood was back as a member of the PGA Tour in the States this year and has now taken the extra step of moving his family from Worksop to Florida as he approaches his 40th birthday.

He is still searching for his first major title, and the US Masters in April will be his 60th attempt.

A spokesman for Westwood’s management company said: “Lee says he did not fire Billy, but took the decision because Billy was unable to give him a date when he would be able to start working again.”