Las Vegas jury hears Blasberg's suicide note

By Associated PressMay 8, 2014, 5:32 pm

LAS VEGAS – A suicide note left by professional golfer Erica Blasberg in 2010 blames no one, expresses deep personal unhappiness and describes a mixture of drugs kicking in before ending with the words, ''love and kisses, eternity, Erica.''

''I'm sad and don't want to be doing this right now,'' the 25-year-old wrote in the letter that was read to a jury on Wednesday. ''Sorry for all the people I've hurt doing this, but please understand how miserable and sad I am, and that I feel no way of escaping it.''

The note provided a dramatic opening to a civil wrongful death, medical malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty trial against Blasberg's then-physician, occasional golfing buddy and personal friend, Dr. Thomas Hess.

Blasberg's parents accuse Hess of having had an inappropriate relationship with her and failing to provide proper medical care before she died. Their lawsuit, filed in 2011 in Clark County District Court, seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Hess, now 46, denies having a romantic relationship with Blasberg. He pleaded guilty in late 2010 to a misdemeanor obstruction charge for removing the suicide note and medications after discovering Blasberg's body, and was sentenced to one year of probation and 40 hours of community service.

Blasberg's parents' attorney, Nick Crosby, told the jury Wednesday that circumstantial evidence and a series of seemingly secretive acts surrounding their communication point to Hess' responsibility in the death.

''This is a case about a doctor who let his personal interest get in the way of his professional responsibility,'' Crosby said, ''and my clients' daughter died as a result.''

Two days before she died, Blasberg and Hess played golf at the exclusive Southern Highlands Golf Club outside Las Vegas, where both had free memberships, Crosby said. They then watched a televised hockey game at a lounge at a resort hotel in Henderson, where they were seen touching hands and with Hess' hand on Blasberg's leg.

The married Hess bought a prepaid cellular telephone the next day, which he used only to call Blasberg, and Crosby said evidence would show that Hess left an obviously drunk Blasberg at her home the night before she died.

”He left her in a compromised state,'' Crosby said. ''He was torn between leaving Erica and getting in trouble with his wife.''

Crosby said phone records show that Blasberg tried to call Hess about 3:30 a.m. the following morning – a Sunday, Mother's Day – and that Hess tried to call Blasberg eight times that morning and nine times that afternoon before going to her home in Henderson and finding her body.

Blasberg was in bed with a dust mask over her mouth and a plastic bag over her head, secured by rubber bands.

The Clark County coroner determined that she committed suicide by asphyxiation, with a toxic combination of medications in her system.

Crosby told the jury that Hess' then-wife texted Hess that she was ''sad, scared and disappointed'' to learn of Blasberg's death and that she suspected from his distress the night before that Hess had been ending a relationship with someone.

But defense attorney Kim Irene Mandelbaum told the jury that there was no evidence that Hess killed Blasberg or that the two had a romantic relationship.

Blasberg had been seeing a psychiatrist for depression, but Hess didn't know that, the defense attorney said.

Hess ''stupidly removed the suicide note and a blister pack of Mexican medications, Xanax,'' Mandelbaum said.

Hess has maintained he was trying to spare Blasberg's family from anguish.

Blasberg's note – read in court on Wednesday by Mandelbaum – referred once to ''many people who will know who they are when this is read,'' and twice referred to stockpiling over several months the drugs she was taking.

''I blame no one for the drugs I am taking this evening,'' it says.

None of the medications had been prescribed by Hess, Mandelbaum said.

''I know her parents want to blame Dr. Hess,'' the defense attorney said. ''But there's no one to blame. Certainly, not Dr. Hess.''

''He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.''

Blasberg was from Corona, California, where she was coached by her father and became a junior golf standout.

She was an All-American in 2003 and 2004 at the University of Arizona and turned professional in June 2004. Her best year was 2008, when she earned a career-best tie for eighth at the SBS Open in Hawaii and more than $113,000 in winnings, the LPGA said.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.