Remembering a Friend

By Randall MellMay 14, 2010, 3:04 am
LPGA Tour _newMOBILE, Ala. – Irene Cho delivered birdies and kisses as gifts to her friend in equal doses.

Every time Cho made a birdie in Thursday’s first round of the Bell Micro LPGA Classic, she planted her lips on the pink wristband she was wearing.

She kissed the heart between the “e” and the “b” inscribed on the wristband, letters that honored the memory of Erica Blasberg, Cho’s best friend on tour.

Blasberg, 25, was found dead in her home in Henderson, Nev., on Sunday. Police are investigating. No cause of death has been released, nor have any verifiable facts surrounding the circumstances. The mystery of what happened haunts tour pros this week as they wrestle with the grief of losing one of their own.

As much as Cho wanted to cry as memories of her friend paraded through her mind Thursday, she refused.

“I’m very emotional, and whenever Erica saw me crying, she was like, `Irene, now seriously, you need to stop crying,’” Cho said.

Cho used memories like that to keep her friend’s spirit close. Cho says that Blasberg’s life, her adventurous, fearless and energetic nature, changed her. Cho says she was too serious on tour until Blasberg came along and taught her to “loosen up.” Blasberg “totally rubbed off on me,” Cho says.

Erica Blasberg smilingCho pledged that Blasberg’s death will also change her.

“I just tried to be like Erica would be,” Cho said of the smile she kept finding when she wanted to cry during Thursday’s round. “I think Erica would be upset at me if I cried. So I’ve been smiling.”

How Cho was able to post a 3-under-par 69 with all that’s happened this week befuddles even the player who posted the score.

“I think Erica helped me out a little bit today,” Cho said.

Fellow players see Cho and think of Blasberg.

“Irene and Erica were like sisters,” said Leta Lindley, a tour veteran. “You couldn’t see one without the other.”

On Sunday, Cho waited for Blasberg’s arrival in Mobile. Cho had offered her caddie, Missy Pederson, for Blasberg to use in the Monday qualifier here, but Pederson got a text when she awoke Sunday. It was from Blasberg. She wasn’t coming to the Bell Micro after all. Cho texted Blasberg later that day to find out why her friend wasn’t coming, but she never got an answer. At the end of Cho’s pro-am Monday, she was startled to see a small gathering of LPGA staff waiting for her. They broke the bad news.

Devastated, Cho drove back to her hotel room and called her parents.

“They said `Irene, please come home, you really need to be home,’” Cho said.

No, Cho told her parents, she couldn’t. Her LPGA family needed her now. She was grateful she stayed when she joined follow players, caddies and LPGA staff at a memorial service for Blasberg in the Magnolia Grove clubhouse on the eve of the tournament.

The service’s theme was “Gone Too Soon.” Lindley, who played at the University of Arizona before Blasberg but had a special kinship with her as a fellow Wildcat, read a poem by Amy Louise Kerswell that brought Cho and others to tears. It was titled, “Miss me but let me go.” The memorial lasted 90 minutes with Cho among a dozen players who spoke.

Appreciate what you have. That’s what Cho told fellow players.

“I said keep a smile on your face,” Cho said. “Life is so short. Always tell the people you care about that you love them. This totally puts things in perspective for me. You don’t appreciate the little things in life. I do now.”

Cho didn’t get back to her hotel after the service until 10 p.m. She isn’t sure how much she slept, but she was up at 4:30 a.m. Thursday to get ready for her early tee time.

With memories of Blasberg floating through her thoughts, with the mystery of the death intensifying everything, Cho guesses she hasn’t slept a total of more than 12 hours all week. That made her performance Thursday all the more impressive.

“It was weird,” Cho said. “I got up today, and I wasn’t tired at all. It’s weird because I love to sleep, and I can usually sleep forever. I feel so energized. I don’t know where I’m getting all the energy from.”

Cho’s 3-under-par score resonated in a special way.

That’s what Blasberg shot at the Tres Marias Championship in the final round she posted as an LPGA player.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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