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Woosnam in Reported Plane Scare

October 28, 1999

JEREZ, Spain (AP) _ Just two days after the death of U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart, European golf star Ian Woosnam had a scare in his own private plane.

The Daily Mail of London reported today that Woosnam’s twin-engine plane began depressurizing Wednesday while the former Masters champion was flying in from his home in Britain’s Channel Islands.

Twenty minutes into the flight, oxygen masks dropped down. Woosnam, two friends accompanying him and pilot Robin Richards grabbed them and put them on.

``It was a bit scary. I don’t want to make a big thing about it, especially after the tragedy of Payne, but it was a strange coincidence,″ Woosnam told the newspaper. ``We had just been talking about what happened to Payne.″

Woosnam’s pilot immediately dived to equalize outer and inner pressure on the plane, which had been at an altitude of 15,000 feet.

``The pilot told us that a compression seal had gone and that everything was fine,″ Woosnam told the newspaper.

An examination of the plane revealed a fault in a compression seal, the newspaper said. A loss of cabin pressure is suspected as being a factor in the crash Monday of Stewart’s plane. The golfer and five others were killed,

``We could have continued the flight at a lower level, but there were too many big mountains ahead and it would have been very bumpy,″ Woosnam said. ``So we returned to Jersey. After what happened to Payne, we did not want to take any chances.″

Woosnam flew in on another plane, then refused further comment.

``I just don’t want to talk about it,″ he said in the locker room of the Montecastillo Club before teeing off in the first round of the $1.6 million Volvo Masters.

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