A Fathers Pain

By Randall MellAugust 21, 2010, 5:55 am
There is no escape for Mel Blasberg.

His passion has become his curse.

While he still loves golf, still loves teaching the game, he’s haunted by what he loved most about it.

He loved the connection it gave him with his daughter, Erica, a connection that lives on four months after her mysterious death.
Erica Blasberg
Erica Blasberg finished T-44 in her only start on the LPGA in 2010. (Getty Images)
Back in his director of instruction position at Eagle Glen Golf Club in Corona, Calif., Mel has been trying to put his life back together while wrestling with the mystery of what really happened to his daughter, the former LPGA professional who hit the tour with so much promise.

Mel went to work at Eagle Glen when Erica was 11. They were fixtures together on the range and course there.

“Erica was the centerpiece at Eagle Glen,” Mel Blasberg told GolfChannel.com. “It’s hard to be there and not be reminded of her on a constant basis.

“In a way, going back to work is good for me, but the reminders can bring back the worst emotions, very dark, where nothing seems important.

“When that curtain comes down, and it comes down every day, it’s devastating.”

There’s devastation in wondering what really happened to his daughter and whether he could have done anything to prevent her death.

With Mel getting news that the investigation is nearing an end, that the Henderson (Nev.) Police are expected to release their report next Wednesday, he’s bracing for the possibility he will never get answers to those questions.

That’s because Mel believes an important party in the investigation is withholding what he knows about the death.

Mel believes a Las Vegas family doctor named Thomas Hess can help with the mystery but that Hess is refusing to offer that help.

“The more and more I find out about the doctor, the more upset I get, but I cannot get into details about that,” Mel said.

Erica was discovered dead on May 9 in her Henderson home. She was 25. She was a two-time All-American at the University of Arizona before turning pro after her sophomore year and earning her way from the Futures Tour to the LPGA.

CBS News reported in June that sources close to the investigation said Hess spoke to Erica the night before she died and that he made the 911 call to police from Erica’s home the day she was discovered dead. ABC News reported a prescription written by Hess was found in Erica’s home. Two months ago, police raided Hess’ medical office and home, seizing video cameras, a cell phone, computers and white plastic trash bags similar to one found near Blasberg’s body.

Mel Blasberg said he is frustrated that after giving an initial interview with police, Hess has hired a lawyer and has gone silent.

“It’s time for Dr. Hess to tell us what happened,” Mel Blasberg said. “I believe without him telling us, I will always think that I could have done something more for Erica.”

Mel says none of this is about him and what he wants. As a father, who remains an advocate for his daughter, it’s about what Erica deserves.

“The police’s obligation is to Erica, not to me,” Mel said.

The cause of Erica’s death has yet to be released. Mel isn’t optimistic a clear picture of what led to her death will ever be known without Hess’ helping. He said he doesn’t know the exact nature of his daughter’s relationship with Hess, beyond the fact that they played golf together.

Henderson Police say there is no person of interest in the case.

“The lack of communication [with the police] hasn’t been easy for me,” Mel said. “I can only hope the investigation is thorough, accurate and professional. I pray for it, but if I have to base it on the communication I’ve received, I would not feel that way.”

Mel said waiting for next week’s report to be released isn’t the torment you might think.

“Not having Erica is a nightmare,” he said. “Everything else pales in comparison.”

Watching LPGA events has been difficult since his daughter’s death, Mel says. In fact, he can’t remember watching anything beyond a glimpse until he sat down to watch Paula Creamer win the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont last month.

“It is almost like women’s golf has been ripped away from me,” Mel said. “It had been part of my life for so long, and I was reluctant to watch. But there was something about watching Paula win, it gave me comfort.”

Mel said a big part of that is that Paul Creamer, Paula’s father, reached out to comfort Mel in his grief. They’re fellow Californians. Mel felt joy knowing the connection Paul has with Paula.

“It’s almost like I assimilated the feeling through Paula,” Mel said.

Mel was close to his daughter, but people who know him will tell you he was a tough teacher. Erica’s closest friends, like Ray Kim, her former caddie, will tell you that Mel’s toughness rubbed off on Erica. Still, the father/daughter could have their battles. Mel will tell you now that love won out. That’s what he holds onto because they had a small battle at the end of last year that spilled into this year.

“We actually didn’t speak for about four months,” Mel said. “I was her greatest fan, but I was probably her worst critic. I knew I had to do something about that when she didn’t call me on my birthday.”

After his April birthday passed with no call from Erica, Mel called her.

“I asked her why she didn’t call,” Mel said. “And we talked.”

And they reconnected shortly after, as father/daughter and as teacher/pupil. Kim said the reconnection was important to Erica and created a new spark in her game. After slumping in ’09, and then packing her bags in the middle of LPGA Q-School at the end of last year, Erica’s career seemed like it might be over. But after reconnecting with her father, Erica traveled to back to Corona to work with him. And Mel traveled to Las Vegas to be with his daughter. Erica played her way into the Tres Marias Championship in her last event before her death, tying for 44th.

“She was his life, his pride and his joy,” Kim said.

As devastating as the last four months have been, Mel said he can’t imagine how he would endure if he hadn’t reconnected with his daughter in such a meaningful way.

“There is no way to describe how important that was,” Mel said. “[Not reconnecting] would have been beyond tragic.”

Mel has terrific memories to live with, his own and the collection Erica’s friends and admirers have generously passed onto him.

As unpleasant as it might prove, Mel would like to hear the final chapter of memories, the chapter that tells him why his daughter’s life ended. But he isn’t optimistic he’s going to hear it when the police release their report as expected next week.
Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm