Civil Trial Begins Over Stewart Plane Crash

By Associated PressMay 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A civil trial has started over who and what is to blame for the 1999 Learjet crash that killed pro golfer Payne Stewart and five others.
 
The lawsuit, brought by the families of Stewart and his close friend and agent Robert Fraley, who also died, could result in a jury award worth millions if the planes manufacturer is found to be at fault.
 
Or testimony could show that a lack of pilot training and plane maintenance caused the Learjet 35 to lose pressure soon after takeoff from Orlando, killing all aboard within minutes. The plane then began an eerie journey across America before running out of fuel and nose-diving into a South Dakota pasture.
 
The case, which began Tuesday, is expected to take six weeks to argue.
 
The Oct. 25, 1999, crash came months after Stewart won the U.S. Open, his third major championship. That victory was one reason an attorney for the families calculated that Stewart, who was 42, could have earned more than $200 million in winnings, endorsements and other ventures if his career had not been cut short.
 
The evidence is going to show this case is first and foremost about trust and responsibility, said Daniel Barks, a lead attorney for the families. Learjet violated that trust. ... They wagered the lives of Bob Fraley and Payne Stewart.
 
Barks will try to pin the crash on defects within the outflow valve and its adapter, which sit near the front nose of the aircraft. The valve helps maintain pressure in the cabin during flight and depressurizes a plane upon descent.
 
Barks said poor design, lack of testing and weak materials caused the adapter to fail, exposing a 3-inch hole and allowing depressurized air into the cabin.
 
Learjet attorneys dont dispute that the cabin lost pressure that day, but they say the valve adapter worked as it should have.
 
This adapter did not fail, said Robert Banker, attorney for Learjet. Theres nothing wrong with that adapter.
 
Bankers team notes the part was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and remains in more than 300 aircraft. The part has no history of failures, the defense contends.
 
Learjet will try to blame Sunjet Aviation, the planes operator, which closed not long after the crash, with failing to maintain the aircraft. They pointed out a history of problems the company had with maintenance and finances.
 
And the attorneys said Sunjets pilot, Michael Kling, had not been adequately trained and perhaps could not respond to a rapid depressurization quickly.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Koepka watches as named engraved again on U.S. Open trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:10 am

For the second consecutive year, Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open. So, once again he got to watch as his name was forever etched onto the trophy.

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Masters champ Reed: 'I definitely had a chance'

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:55 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Patrick Reed’s Grand Slam bid made it all the way to the closing stretch of the final round at the U.S. Open.

Reed had never cracked the top 10 in a major championship before a runner-up finish at last year’s PGA Championship, and he followed that with a convincing victory at the Masters in April. In the U.S. Open, despite starting the final round three shots behind a quartet of co-leaders, he made a concerted effort to add a second major title.

With Shinnecock Hills declawed in response to third-round conditions that bordered on unplayable, Reed birdied each of his first three holes and five of his first seven to move to 1 over and within a shot of Brooks Koepka’s lead. He could get no closer, though, as three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 9-12 effectively ended his title bid.

Reed finished alone in fourth place at 4 over, three shots behind Koepka after closing with a 2-under 68.


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“Of course, Grand Slam would have been nice. But you know, I mean honestly, to me, that was really the last thing on my mind,” Reed said. “It was go out, play some solid golf, try to post a number and see if you can get the job done. I had a chance. I definitely had a chance.”

It’s the third top-15 finish at the U.S. Open in the last four years for Reed, who tied for 13th at Chambers Bay and finished T-14 last year at Erin Hills.

Reed was bidding to erase a nine-shot deficit after 36 holes, which would have been the second-largest comeback in tournament history. He was also looking to join Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth on the short list of players to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” Reed said. “But at the same time … To finish in the top 10 my last three majors, and to have a chance to really win all three of them and to close one off, it means a lot.”

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Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”


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This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.