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Football injury rules out caddie Billy for over two months
Lee Westwood has a new caddie in Charlotte this week - and may not have Billy Foster back until after The Open in July.
Yorkshireman Foster injured his right knee just before a charity football match on Monday and, according to the world No 3, could be out of action for more than two months.
Westwood will have American Casey Kerr alongside him in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where both he and Rory McIlroy have the chance to dethrone the resting Luke Donald as world No 1, and Tiger Woods, like McIlroy, plays his first event since The Masters.
“Billy could not only miss this event, next week’s Players Championship and the PGA at Wentworth, but also the US Open and The Open,” said Westwood on his website.
“I told him it’s a good job there’s no big tournaments coming up!
“Billy’s an integral part of the team and is very important. I’m not sure how it will affect me.”
Kerr usually works for Fred Couples, but the former Masters champion is currently suffering from ‘flu.
Westwood made a successful defence of the Indonesian Masters a fortnight ago and before that came joint third at Augusta.
The 39-year-old will be back at the top of the rankings for the first time in almost a year if he wins on Sunday and McIlroy is outside the first six.
But if Westwood does not lift the title the Northern Irishman - 23 this Friday - needs a top-seven finish to go to No 1 for the third time in just over two months.
McIlroy and Woods have both had three weeks to digest what went wrong in The Masters, where so much was expected of them and they finished joint 40th.
Woods said: “I was struggling with my ball-striking - it had to do with my posture. My set-up wasn’t quite right, as well as my takeaway.”
After a week off, he and coach Sean Foley got back to work and Woods reckons that after “hundreds of reps it’s dialed in.”
McIlroy will hope to be inspired by his return to the scene of his first victory in America two years ago - achieved with a magical course record of 62 in the final round after he had almost missed the halfway cut.
“I think that by going into majors as a major champion it’s definitely heightened your expectation levels a little bit - maybe that was something that I maybe didn’t control quite so well at The Masters,” he said.
He was only one shot off the lead after two rounds, but closed 77-76.
There is obviously no need for him to panic about that, though.
Last year, of course, he finished with an 80 when four clear and then two months later won the US Open by eight with a record score.
McIlroy plays the opening two rounds with two other former winners at Quail Hollow, Jim Furyk and David Toms, with Woods in the group immediately ahead of them.
Westwood partners Kyle Stanley and defending champion Lucas Glover, while Phil Mickelson tees off alongside Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley.
They were the three players who fought out a play-off won by Haas at Riviera in Los Angeles in February.
Graeme McDowell was in the original field, but withdrew in order to rest and recharge his batteries before next week’s Players Championship - the event he led by three at one point last year, but then fell away to a closing 79.