AUGUSTA, Ga. – Depending on who one asks, Lee Westwoods’ eventful trip from Houston to Augusta, Ga. late Sunday was either harrowing or harmless. It’s a question of perspective.
The Englishman’s private charter from Texas to the season’s first major lasted just under 10 minutes after the cabin of the Citation Excel he was flying filled with smoke and the flight crew donned air masks for an emergency landing.
“If you talk to (manager Chubby Chandler) then flames were coming up between our legs,” Westwood said. “But they turned around fairly quickly and landed (back in Houston). It was a bit nervy three or four minutes but not drama filled like some would have you think.”
The Marquis Jet’s Citation landed safely back in Houston and the ground crew discovered the smoke was coming from the auxiliary power unit and posed no threat.
There were five passengers aboard the plane, including Chandler, Westwood, two caddies and “a very quiet Ross Fisher,” Chandler laughed.
Although the entire incident lasted less than 10 minutes it seemed much longer. Westwood’s caddie Billy Foster “texted” his wife while Chandler said he and Westwood tried to make jokes.
“The one thing I can remember is looking out the window and thinking, I’m not sure if I want this plane to go up or down,” Chandler said.
Marquis Jet flew in a replacement Citation from Oklahoma City, Okla., and the group arrived in Augusta about 3 ½ hours later than originally scheduled but surprisingly relaxed.
“On the next flight I had a very large double vodka,” Westwood admitted.