Blasbergs Father Wants More Answers

By Randall MellAugust 25, 2010, 2:46 am
Mel Blasberg read his daughter’s suicide note after it was recovered.

He read the message police said Dr. Thomas Hess took from Erica Blasberg’s side and hid in his car after finding her dead in her home.

“I understand why Hess would remove that note,” Mel Blasberg said.
Video: Mel Blasberg addresses the media after the coroner's report is made public
Blasberg is troubled by the nature of Erica’s relationship with the married doctor and believes that relationship is critical in the events that led to her death 15 weeks ago. He knows they were more than a doctor and patient, but he’s careful to couch his suspicions because police have more work to do after arresting Hess on charges of obstruction of justice in connection with the suicide.

Hess, a 43-year-old Las Vegas family doctor,  turned himself into authorities Tuesday afternoon and was booked at the Henderson (Nev.) Detention Center. Less than an hour later, he was released on bail.

Though police ruled out foul play in the findings released Tuesday, Hess was sought by police for removing the suicide note and prescription medications from the scene. Police said Hess “hid” them in his car.

After reading the suicide note, after listening to investigators detail their findings Tuesday in a 90-minute meeting at the Henderson Police Department, Blasberg knows more about his daughter’s state of mind, but he believes only Hess knows what really “triggered” the suicide almost four months ago.

“The note was a story that surrounded her death, but it wasn’t about her death,” Blasberg said by telephone shortly after leaving the meeting with police. “Where some questions were answered, the questions I need answering can only come from Hess.

“There is a reason why Erica’s state of mind got to a point – in her last 12, 13 or 14 hours – why it got to a point to where we are all talking about her. Prior to that time, she was fine. Everything has something to do with this guy Hess, which triggered something in her.”

Erica, 25, a promising golf professional when she first hit the LPGA, was found dead on May 9 at her home in Henderson.

According to Nevada’s Clark County coroner’s office, Blasberg’s suicide was caused by asphyxia and toxic levels of prescription medication. Police said she was found with a plastic bag over her head.

Video: 911 call made from Blasberg's home by Dr. Thomas Hess
The final 24 hours of Erica’s life haunts Mel Blasberg. Police say Hess made the 911 call from Erica’s home the day she died. Mel Blasberg says Hess also was with his daughter the night before she died. After hearing the police findings, Mel said he has reason to believe Hess saw his daughter in a troubled state that as a doctor should have alarmed him that she needed help.

“All along, my opinion’s been that Erica didn’t have to die,” Blasberg said. “Now, with the police investigation, I feel more strongly than I ever did that Erica did not have to die.

“This Dr. Hess was with her on Saturday night [the night before she died]. I can’t go in detail. I can, but I will let the police do that when they arrest him. But, just a normal, reasonable person would have done a whole lot more seeing Erica in this frame of mind. Seeing her in what appeared to be, clearly, some weird state, he really didn’t react. Where he might not, under the law, be considered a person who killed her, he is partly responsible why she is not alive.”

Blasberg is also troubled that after giving an initial statement to police, Hess retained an attorney and stopped cooperating with police. Blasberg said he plans to pursue the truth in a civil suit against Hess.

Asked if he believed his daughter and Hess were romantically involved, Blasberg paused.

“There is some specific, visual evidence that shows their relationship to be affectionate, which leads me to believe it was an affair, or something that was intimate,” he said. “I don’t have all the information. Based on what I was told, I think that’s the only conclusion I can draw.”

Erica Blasberg’s golf career mirrored her life in the end, a tale of highs and lows.  

Blasberg grew up in Corona, Calif., as a three-time American Junior Golf Association All-American. She was good enough to play on the boys’ team at Corona High School. Mel was a professional instructor and the only swing coach she ever knew. She went on to become a two-time All-American at the University of Arizona who was good enough to turn pro after her sophomore year.

She quickly won a Futures Tour event and advanced through LPGA Qualifying School.

Erica was going to be a star. That was the feeling back home, but it never happened.

In five LPGA seasons, Blasberg’s best finish was a tie for eighth at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in Hawaii. Her friends saw her struggle emotionally with the game. She quit halfway through the LPGA’s Qualifying School last winter and confided to friends that she wasn’t sure what she would do if she gave up golf. Those friends, though, saw a rejuvenated spirit in Blasberg before the start of this season. Her former caddie, Ray Kim, said a renewal of commitment with her father as coach sparked a comeback in her game. Blasberg Monday qualified for the Tres Marias Championship in April, made the cut and tied for 44th.

Poised to Monday qualify for the Bell Micro Championship in early May, Erica’s bags were all packed for the trip when she was found dead. She had even arranged to borrow her dear friend Irene Cho’s caddie.

Mel Blasberg said his daughter’s eagerness to get to the Bell Micro factors into the mystery of what happened that last night.

“Emotionally, I was prepared for today,” Mel said of his 90-minute meeting with Henderson police. “I was prepared to ask my questions, but, in between everything, it was impossible. I kept up a good front, but when the press wanted to talk to me after, it hit like a ton of bricks: Erica’s dead.”

Nearly four months after his daughter’s death, Blasberg remains intensely interested in his daughter’s life and what happened in the last hours of that life.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.