Injured caddy Billy Foster admits he is devastated at missing out on what he believes could be a defining summer for Lee Westwood.
The Keighley-born bagman to the world No 3 faces up to half a year on the sidelines after tearing knee ligaments in America.
Foster sustained the injury in a kickabout before a charity football match between caddies and a local side in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the build-up to last week’s Fargo Wells Fargo Championship.
Foster said: “The hard thing is not the financial consequences – it is hard but I can get my head round that – the worst thing is we have worked so hard to get to this place.
“Where Lee is right now in terms of being mentally and physically right, there are only great times ahead.”
The Bingley St Ives member has been playing a more prominent role in helping Westwood with his short game after the Worksop ace stopped working with putting coach Phil Kenyon after the Masters.
A first major has remained elusive for Westwood, who endured more frustration at the Masters when poor putting saw him finish just two shots off the lead.
But he went on to win the Indonesian Masters and Foster – still waiting for his own first major title success – believes his employer is ready to finally get the monkey off his back.
He said: “He’s never been in a better position this year. Tee to green there is not a better player in the world.
“I really believe he could win five or six tournaments. I hope he does but unfortunately I won’t be there beside him.
“I will be over the moon for him if he does win his first major but I’ll be devastated that I can’t be there with him.”
Foster, who went to see a specialist on Tuesday, fears he might not be fit for the Ryder Cup in the autumn.
“You may as well have put a hand grenade in there and pulled the pin,” he said of his knee.
The freakish nature of how the injury happened left him all the more frustrated.
He said: “I’ve gone skiing a couple of times and Lee has told me to take care with an apprehensive look about him.
“But I wasn’t even playing in the football match. They asked me if I wanted to play and I said I was too old for that. It was too dangerous.
“I was just having a kickabout with them in the warm-up. My foot went in a hole and you could hear the crack from 20 yards away.”
Foster’s right knee has given him problems in the past but that was back in 1991. It locked up on the first tee when he was caddying for Seve Ballesteros in the World Matchplay final and he was forced to struggle round for 34 holes before having an operation on it.
Westwood has amassed six major top-threes, won eight times and risen to world No 1 since he linked up with Foster three years ago.
He said: “Billy’s an integral part of the team and is very important. I’m not sure how it will affect me.
“I do feel very sorry for Billy, who was excited about the rest of this season. He told me he expected this to be a big, big year for me.”
Westwood used Casey Kerr – caddy to Fred Couples, who is currently out of action – last week and will do again when he is among the favourites for the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass, which starts today.