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.
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

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A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

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Green jacket tour

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Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm