One of the constants of the European team room for the last 25 years, caddie Billy Foster, will be another absentee from the 39th Ryder Cup, though not because he has been overlooked.
While Harrington and Mahan were deemed surplus to requirements as wild-card picks by their respective captains, Foster will cut a frustrated figure on his sofa in Yorkshire due to a cruciate knee ligament injury that has required almost five months away from Lee Westwood’s side this season.
A football injury that has required two operations has not only denied Foster his 12th Ryder Cup appearance but also robbed the Europeans of their team room court jester for just the second time since his debut in 1987.
The Yorkshireman caddied for European legend Seve Ballesteros at the 1991 and 1993 Ryder Cups, was on Darren Clarke’s bag during those emotional days at the K Club in 2006 and helped Westwood contribute to Europe’s famous win at Celtic Manor last time out in 2010.
World number four Westwood has been busy with the rest of his entourage in Foster’s absence, parting ways with long-term coach Pete Cowen following a miserable PGA Championship last month and also letting go his temporary caddie Mike ’ ‘Sponge’ Waite while hiring a short-game coach, Zimbabwean Tony Johnstone, to address the chipping and putting most commonly cited as the reason why the Englishman is yet to win a major at age 39. Mike Kerr, most recently on Alvaros Quiros’s bag, will be Westwood’s caddie thisweek while the golfer is back in form following that missed cut at KiawahIsland, jumping from 53rd at the start of the FedEx Cup play-offs to 10th in the final standings. How the presence of Foster this week would have added to Westwood’s current good vibe can only be guessed and the caddie is understandably frustrated.
“I’ve been trying to get my head around that for the last two or three months,” Foster told Sky Sports. “It’s tough. I’m in dark tunnel at the minute and I can’t see the light. But, it’s all character building, isn’t it. I’ll come back bigger and better for it hopefully. It’ll be frustrating not being there as it would have been my 12th Ryder Cup. I’ve been part of the furniture since 1987. It’ll be tough because I love it. If there’s two tournaments that you want to be in it’s The Open and the Ryder Cup. But I’ve always said the Ryder Cup makes the Masters and The Open feel like a Monthly Medal regarding atmosphere. It is the special one that I love to be involved in so it’s really very frustrating and disappointing that I can’t be there.
“I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie and the piss-taking. I like to get my jester’s hat on in the locker room and stir them up and sing songs and carry on like an idiot. Yeah, I’ll miss it this year.”
Foster will have some great memories to get him through the weekend, though, including twice carrying Ballesteros’s bag.
“There’s been no man with so much desire, commitment and passion for the Ryder Cup. And I very much doubt there’ll be another player that shows the same spirit and passion. Basically, Seve’s made the Ryder Cup.”
The highlight of Foster’s 11 Ryder Cups, though, came in 2006 at the K Club, on the bag of a still-grieving Darren Clarke.