Westwood In Mid-Air Scare

Lee Westwood probably had visions of being fitted for a pine box rather than a green jacket after a mid-air drama on route to Augusta and this week’s Masters.

Westwood’s private jet was just minutes into the air out of Houston Airport when smoke began filling the cockpit of the private jet he’d hired to take him north-east to Georgia.

Lee Westwood and his family on arrival at Augusta National

The two pilots were forced to take defensive action and put the plane into a nose dive before getting clearance to land the place back at Houston.

And when the jet touched down it was followed by three fire engines rushing down the tarmac.

“I was sitting there and turned around to everyone else and I said ‘Am I the only one who can smell smoke’”, said Westwood on arrival yesterday (MON) at the Augusta National course.

“We were a couple of minutes after taking off and it was scary, and besides it’s never good when the pilots put on their masks and goggles.

“The pilots put the plane in  nose dive, so we came down really quick.

“We had three fire tenders chasing us when we landed but that for really just a precaution.”

However Westwood played down the situation given also he had walked off the 18th green at the Shell Houston Open having taken a bogey.

Moments before that he had slammed his club into his golf bag and knocking the bag over after putting his second shot into a water hazard on the Redstone course.

“In fact, I was having a little chuckle when I started seeing the smoke because I had walked off the 18th green after hitting it into the water, so the incident on the plane sought of made my day,” he said.

“I had ripped it close all day and to finish it off by putting a ball into the water just made my day nicely.

“So I was joking that actually seeing the plane going into a nose dive is going to finish it off really nicely (laughing).

”I know one thing it wasn’t my putter that was on fire especially after Sunday’s effort in Houston.”

Westwood’s caddy, Billy Foster was so shaken by the incident he thought the worse.

“It scared the daylights out of me, and I blessed myself fearing the worse,” he said.

Bizarrely, Westwood revealed it is the second occasion he’s been in a private jet scare.

“We got chased down the runway one year by a fire engine when the landing gear wouldn’t come down on arriving at Sion Airport in Switzerland for the European Masters,” he said.

But while Westwood was reliving the incident defending Augusta champion, Phil Mickelson arrived looking very casual and relaxed just hours after capturing the Shell Houston Open title.

Mickelson, wearing jeans with his shirt hanging out, strode into the clubhouse in sun-glasses and carrying a take-away coffee.

Padraig Harrington, who was in eighth place behind Mickelson, arrived at 10.30am local time still unshaven.

Waiting for him was good friends Dermot Desmond and J.P. McManus who were driven into the course and down Magnolia Lane by 1998 Masters champion, Mark O’Meara.




Bernie McGuire, Augusta National.

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