The Masters - Westwood's jet catches fire in mid-air

Tue, 05 Apr 13:02:00 2011

The greens at Augusta are enough to strike fear into the heart of any golfer, but world number two Lee Westwood came through a far worse scare on his way to the tournament after his private jet caught fire in mid-air.

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Westwood and his fellow Ryder Cup star Ross Fisher were en-route from the Houston Open to the Masters when the fire broke out in the cockpit.

The pilot immediately made an emergency landing, with the plane being chased down the runway by a fleet of fire engines.

"It was a bit scary," said the ever-laconic Westwood. "It never looks good when you can smell smoke and you turn around and see the pilots have put their masks on!

"The smoke was coming from the cockpit and they told us later they couldn't drop our masks because they feed oxygen into the cabin, and if there is a fire it would fan the flames."

Westwood's caddie Billy Foster, also on the flight, admitted that he "thought he was a goner" as the plane dived back to earth, but Westy took it in his stride.

"The plane came down in a bit of a nosedive because you obviously have to get down as quickly as you can," he added.

"I was all right but Ross and Billy didn't look good. Billy crossed himself a few times and looked terrified when we went into the nosedive."

The 37-year-old even credited the terrifying experience with helping him put his recent woes on the greens out of his mind.

'It's amazing how it puts things in perspective," he said. "I'd come off the 18th green (at Houston) steaming after ripping it all day and sticking my ball in the water at the last. After missing a stack of putts, I thought that was the perfect way to end a rotten day.

"But it hadn't ended yet."

Westwood's golfing pals made light of the incident, with Luke Donald tweeting his friend and Ryder Cup colleague: "You're a week too early to be on fire!"

But the Worksop golfer took the jibes in his stride, even joking that the fire engines on the runway "were not there to put my putter out. That's certainly not on fire".


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