Friends And Lovers Lee Westwood and Andrew and Laurae Coltart make quite a threesome

July 12, 1998

Just another halcyon day on the European tour, perfect for a
friendly practice round between mates Lee Westwood and Andrew
Coltart. Westwood, 25, you've heard a little bit about. He's the
chubby-cheeked, gap-toothed kid who may end England's long
search for the next Nick Faldo. Coltart is a 28-year-old Scot
who after years of toil has finally been linked with Westwood
whenever the future of European golf is discussed. On the 2nd
hole this day, Coltart had the misfortune of sticking his
approach shot in a cavernous greenside bunker, from which he is
visible only from the neck up. Hitting a gorgeous explosion shot
to within six inches of the cup, Coltart nods toward Westwood to
learn his ball's fate, for he is unable to see for himself.
"Eight feet," Westwood says.

Disappointed, Coltart drops another ball in the sand. This one
ends up even closer to the hole than the first. "Eight feet,"
Westwood reports.

Next January, Westwood and Coltart will become brothers-in-law,
when Westwood marries Coltart's younger sister, Laurae. Until
then they'll just have to keep acting like it.

"My first impression of Lee?" asks Coltart, in a brogue thicker
than U.S. Open rough. "A world-class snorer."

"If so, it was only because he put me to sleep with all his talk
about the swing," says Westwood in his Midlands lilt. Their
fraternity is born of an incestuous past. Both Westwood and
Coltart signed with the same management firm, and for years they
shared a life on the road, including countless nights bunking in
the same hotel room to save money. (They have also shared a
swing coach and glossy full-page ads in European golf magazines
for a clothing manufacturer they represent.) In fact, they were
crashing together at the '95 British Open at St. Andrews when
Westwood began pitching woo to Coltart's kid sis, who was
working as a beautician at the Old Course Hotel. "Andrew's
reaction was very enthusiastic," says Laurae. "He said, 'Over my
dead body.'"

When romance looked inevitable, Coltart took Westwood aside and
offered some avuncular advice. "I told Lee that if he wanted to
marry my sister, he had better start making more money on the
golf course," Coltart says. "Seems to me he took the
recommendation rather well."

The photograph is yellowed with age, brittle looking, yet has
the faint glow of the historic. There is John King, the head pro
at Westwood's hometown Worksop Golf Club, pretending to be
giving a lesson to a group of teenagers in a snap for the town
paper. All of King's charges are staring at him with rapt
attention. All except Westwood, who couldn't help but fix the
camera with an impish grin. "He's always loved the spotlight,"
says King, leaning against a wall in the Worksop clubhouse,
adrift in the reverie of the photo.

Few players have found the klieg lights of the world golf stage
so dramatically. Westwood was virtually unknown on either side
of the Atlantic until he starred in last September's Ryder Cup,
but that was merely a tease of what was to come. Since
Valderrama, Westwood has been, quite simply, the hottest player
in the world. (David Duval loses out on the title because his
heroics have come only in the U.S.) Last November, Westwood won
three tournaments on three continents, added a second-place
finish and earned more than $850,000, rocketing to third on the
European tour's season-ending money list. In April he won in the
U.S. in only his seventh try, taking the Freeport-McDermott
Classic in New Orleans with a bravura performance, and after
back-to-back victories in Europe at the end of May, Westwood sat
atop the tour's money list for the first time. When the British
Open kicks off next week at Royal Birkdale, just an hour and a
half from Worksop, Westwood will find himself in a new and
terrifying position: carrying the flag for British golf, for a
sporting public that places its golfing heroes somewhere between
Queen and country.

"It doesn't bother me," Westwood says. "If anything, it gives me
a confidence boost." Westwood wears confidence the way other men
do cologne, but on this topic there's something reserved in his
manner. It's as if he knows better, and with good reason.

"There's a lot of rubbish that comes with being everyone's
favorite golfer," says Sandy Lyle, the Scot who was the best
player in the world in the late '80s but has battled Icarus
metaphors ever since, while his game has gone up in flames.
"It's different here than in the States. The people are a little
more desperate for their next hero." No one knows the pitfalls
like Faldo, England's darling for the last decade, and at the
Ryder Cup he warned Westwood's enthusiasts in the press to
"leave him alone, he's doing all right."

Yet there's a growing sense that Westwood is the first in a long
line of would-be successors to Faldo's throne. There is no
question he has the game. His combination of power and
precision--he's deadly accurate with long irons and has superb
touch around the greens--has drawn raves, but it is an apparent
immunity to pressure that may be his greatest strength. In his
short career Westwood is 3-0 in playoffs, including a victory
over Greg Norman on the Shark's home turf in last November's
Australian Open. In the match that served as Westwood's
coming-out party, a second-day four-ball match at the Ryder Cup,
his play was so unrelenting that Tiger Woods, trying to keep
pace, famously putted into the pond at Valderrama's 17th hole
and was forced to concede defeat.

More impressively, Westwood has shown the same kind of
unflappability in dealing with the mushrooming hype and
hysteria. He still doffs his cap before shaking hands with his
playing partners, a nice touch of Old World manners that is
eclipsed only by his compulsion to include a Mister when
addressing his elders in the game. (During Westwood's victory in
last year's Taiheiyo Masters in Japan, Mr. Watson finally had to
ask to be called Tom.) Westwood recently traded in his first
indulgence, a Porsche, for a more stately Mercedes sedan. "Not
quite as flashy, which I don't mind," he says. He and his
fiancee live in a modest redbrick house on a quiet cul-de-sac
not five minutes from his parents' home in Worksop, a mill town
in Nottinghamshire in the shadow of Sherwood Forest, which
Westwood used to run through as a boy. Not that Westwood can
tell you much about the legend of Robin Hood or any other topic
that doesn't fit between the front and back pages of the sports
section. "If it wasn't sports, Lee couldn't have cared less, and
I'm afraid not much has changed," says Lee's mum, Trish.

Despite his rotund figure, Westwood was a standout on many of
Worksop's playing fields--a leftwinger in football ("He could
kick with both feet," says his proud father, John), a cricket
bowler, a shot-putter and, most surprising, a long jumper, a
high jumper and a sprinter. Like Faldo, Westwood is an only
child who might have pursued competitive swimming had Jack
Nicklaus not caught his fancy. A 1971 telecast of Nicklaus
contending in the Masters had sent young Nick on his way, and a
decade and a half later 12-year-old Lee stayed up past his
bedtime to watch Nicklaus's inspiring win in the '86 Masters.
Shortly thereafter Westwood swung a golf club in earnest for the
first time, birdieing a hole in his first round, and he was soon
haunting the Worksop course as a junior member. By 16 he had
left school to play the British amateur circuit.

That Westwood received rousing support from his parents in his
career choice is a bit surprising, considering that Trish is a
college-trained podiatrist and John a high school math teacher
whose recent retirement was no doubt accelerated by the four
wearying years he spent trying to instruct Lee. ("He played no
favorites," says Lee. "That was unfortunate for me.") But to
understand John's enthusiasm for his son's golf career, all you
have to do is watch him walk among Lee's gallery. Shortly before
his seventh birthday, John was stricken with polio, and its
legacy is still evident in a pronounced limp. "When I was a boy,
I dreamed of being a sportsman, but the opportunity was taken
from me," he says. Lee's future in sports was probably sealed
the day it became evident that his physical gifts matched his
dad's enthusiasm. Happily, John never pushed too hard, and Lee's
affection is evident in the way he still brags about the first
time he beat his dad in arm wrestling, when he was 17.

If Lee got his desire from his father, Trish gets the credit for
her son's enlarged perspective. Every Christmas morning she
insisted that the family visit a hospital for the mentally ill,
where Lee would sometimes deliver presents and good cheer in
full Santa regalia. She also tolerated no sports unless Lee met
all his school requirements. As a result of these influences,
Westwood has an attitude that Colin Montgomerie has pronounced
"fabulous," and it doesn't end when he takes off his spikes.

Westwood's sunny disposition certainly was a shock to Laurae
Coltart. "I never knew golfers were allowed to smile until I met
Lee," she says with typical sarcasm. "He's so laid-back he's
completely horizontal." Laurae grew up at her brother's golf
tournaments, watching him melt down with every bogey, and in
part because of all the dramatics she began sit-ins in the
family car, protesting her status as a golf orphan. When her mom
blithely suggested that she could temper her feelings by
marrying a golfer, Laurae made a pact never to do so. Instead
she pursued an education in massage, aromatherapy, reflexology
and various other disciplines of holistic medicine. For a while
she had her own beauty salon in her hometown of Thornhill,
Scotland. Fringe Benefits, it was called, but those proved few
and far between, mostly because the boss was away so much trying
to keep up with Westwood as the romance progressed after the '95
British Open.

What had Lee done to capture Laurae's fancy during that fateful
week? "All I remember is we kept telling each other the most
disgustingly dirty jokes," Laurae says. They became engaged on
New Year's Eve in 1995 and were due to be married in April '97.
That is, until Westwood was invited to play in a little
tournament in Georgia for the first time. Laurae agreed to
accompany Lee to the Masters and bump the wedding until next
January, thus consigning her sweetheart to a lifetime of taking
out the trash without complaint.

Laurae has been instrumental in Lee's newfound commitment to
fitness, which became a priority at the Masters this year when
Gary Player likened Westwood and his 17-stone (238-pound) buddy
Darren Clarke to the Teletubbies. Laurae has taken much of the
fun out of her fiance's diet and coaxed him into regular
cardiovascular and flexibility work, including frequent treks
through the woods on mountain bikes. "It's all good fun,"
Westwood says, rolling his eyes to let you know it's anything
but. As for Laurae's other passion, horseback riding, Lee
doesn't ride but recently did buy a stake in an Irish racing
syndicate. Give the guy points for trying.

"She'll be great for him in the long run," says Andrew Coltart,
who's four years older than his sister. "She has already had an
education on life out here. My parents pretty much gave up their
world to help my golf. Despite what she may have told you,
Laurae never complained when everything revolved around me. She
never asked how come she didn't get more attention. It
definitely would have affected my career if she had."

Coltart couldn't be happier about the impending union, despite
the initial unease that was equal parts brotherly
overprotectiveness and discomfort with what he calls "the
expected lewd comments" from the rest of the boys on tour. Says
Laurae, "Andrew and Lee never fell out of friendship, but there
was a little adjustment period. Now everything is as natural as
can be."

She does strike one ominous note: "Heaven help us all if they
ever get into a playoff against each other."

The day Andrew was born, his father, Robbie Coltart, and
grandfather stepped into the corridor of the hospital for an
important discussion. "My father said to me," Robbie remembers,
"'Here are a couple of pounds, now go down to the club and get
Andrew's name on the books. I want him to be a member from Day
One.'" Robbie Coltart is a Scotsman in every way, right down to
the proper coat and tie he wears when gracing Andrew's gallery.
The only time he pauses in conversation is when he's thinking
about something important. Here he pauses. "It was expected
Andrew would play the game," Robbie says.

Of course it was. Andrew's great-uncle was a founding member of
Thornhill Golf Club, a short, tight track in the heathland of
southern Scotland, and among the village's 2,000 people Robbie
Coltart was one of the finest players, a crack one handicap.
Andrew practically grew up around the club, as much a part of
the scenery as the flowering gorse. As his game blossomed, it
became increasingly clear that Andrew had a future in the sport.
Still, even though golf may have been a way of life around
Thornhill, it was considered a fanciful proposition to play for
a living. "Throughout his teens the goal for Andrew was merely
to make one Walker Cup team, because that would help him find a
good job as a club pro," says Robbie, a retired footwear
retailer. With these modest goals Coltart dipped a toe into the
world of competitive golf at a most unlikely place--Midland
(Texas) Junior College. "It's 20 miles from Odessa," says
Coltart, which is another way of saying it's a million miles
from nowhere.

What does he remember from his three semesters in the Texas
desert? "Barbecue," says Coltart. "Lots of barbecue."

Actually, Coltart was the No. 1 player on a squad that finished
No. 2 in the nation, which inflated his confidence to the point
that he earned that coveted spot on the 1991 Walker Cup team.
Then he turned pro and took off for the only place where he knew
he could play every week--a podunk minitour in Sweden. His "year
in exile" (as one Scottish newspaper put it) was worth it as
Coltart gained enough experience to make it through the Euro
tour's Q school that fall. He can still quote how much he earned
in Europe in '93, a paltry ?9,792, the result of missing 16 cuts
in 22 tournaments. To save money he often slept in airports, the
strap of his golf bag wrapped around his ankle to discourage
thieves. "I never expected it to be easy," Coltart says. "I'm
not sure I imagined it could be that hard, either."

With the life of a club pro beckoning, Coltart survived a return
trip to the European Q school, thus beginning three years of
rapid improvement, his long, elegant swing honed in marathon
practice sessions. From 1994 to '96 he climbed from 42nd to 28th
to sixth on the money list, along the way starring in three
Dunhill Cups. In 1995 he won four of five matches, carrying
Montgomerie and Sam Torrance to Scotland's first championship.
But for all his success, Coltart had yet to win a European tour
event, and it ate at him. His management company has not only
Westwood and Clarke as clients, but also other young comers like
Stuart Cage and Paul McGinley, and by last year Coltart had been
eclipsed by all of them.

"I have always been self-critical by nature, but last year it
got out of control," he says. By midsummer Coltart had come
unhinged, at one point missing the cut in six of nine
tournaments and failing to crack the top 30 in the other three.
"I began to lose touch with reality," Coltart says. "When I woke
up in the morning, I started thinking about golf, thinking I
needed to work on this or that. When I went to bed, I'd be
thinking about golf, trying to force myself to shoot a better
score. It became an obsession."

Coltart is a Sean Connery soundalike, so it makes sense that his
career was rescued by Bond, Emma Bond, his fiancee. They met
four years ago at a tournament in Puerto Rico, where she was
working in a corporate hospitality tent. At the nadir of
Coltart's slump Emma "kicked me up the arse when I really needed
it," Coltart says. "She got me to accept that it's O.K. to have
average days in this job, even bad ones." Coltart also began
seeing a sports psychologist, a rarity in the manly world of
Euro golf. "Over here it's like an admission of weakness," says
Coltart, "but it has done wonders for me."

The best therapy came at season's end, when Coltart played the
Australasian tour. In between the cookouts on the beach, the
nights on the town, the sunbathing and the snorkeling, he became
the first European in 22 years to lead the tour's money list,
winning the Australian PGA and finishing in the top 10 in seven
of nine events. A new mantra was born: "If it's bad, it's bad.
Stuff it," says Coltart. "People have always said I've got to be
a bit more like Lee and be easier on myself. I'm Andy Coltart,
and he's Lee Westwood. It's a bit harder for me to forget things
than it is for him, but I'm learning."

Coltart's new 'tude has been showing up in agate print. At the
season-opening Johnnie Walker Classic, in Thailand, he just
missed a birdie on the last hole that would have gotten him into
the Ernie Els-Tiger Woods playoff, and five weeks later he
finally won his first European tour title, the Qatar Masters. He
is currently ninth on the money list and 11th on the tour in
stroke average (70.42).

When the British Open begins, Coltart, unlike Westwood, will not
be among the favorites, but with his experience playing links
golf and newfound insouciance, he's a good dark horse.
Significantly he's also the pick of a very important person in
the gallery.

"I always grew up with the belief that Andrew was going to win
something big in this game," says Laurae. "I'm certain Lee will,
too. The only difference between them is that Lee is bursting
with confidence and Andrew is only starting to find his. But I
would never say that Lee is a better golfer. After all, Andrew's
my brother. You've got to stick up for your family, don't you?"

COLOR PHOTO: CHRIS COLE LOOKING GOOD Watching Andrew (below), Laurae (opposite) thought golfers never smiled. Then she met her fiance, Westwood. [Andrew Coltart] COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY MATTHEW HARRIS [See caption above--Laurae Coltart] COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [See caption above--Lee Westwood] COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN FAST COMPANY His play last fall has put Westwood (second from right) on a par with players such as (from left) Woods, Ernie Els, Scott Hoch, Davis Love III and Montgomerie. [Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Scott Hoch, Davis Love III, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie] COLOR PHOTO: PHIL SHELDON WHEELS OF FORTUNE Among the many changes in Westwood's life, he traded his sports car for a sedan. [Lee Westwood in car]

Faldo warned the press to "leave [Westwood] alone, he's doing
all right."

"All I remember," says Laurae, "is we kept telling...
disgustingly dirty jokes."

"I have always been self-critical," says Coltart, "but last year
it got out of control."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)