Doctor took suicide note to spare golfers family

By Associated PressAugust 26, 2010, 2:40 am

LAS VEGAS – The doctor who found the body of 25-year-old professional golfer Erica Blasberg told Nevada investigators he hid a suicide note and pills because he wanted to spare her family embarrassment, according to a court document released Wednesday.

A Henderson police affidavit detailed the hours Blasberg and Dr. Thomas Hess spent together playing golf, watching TV in a casino sports book and in her home in the days before he found her dead May 9 with a plastic bag over her head.

Detectives investigating the golfer’s death searched the doctor’s Mercedes-Benz, which was parked in Blasberg’s driveway, and found a suicide note and Xanax pills obtained in Mexico.

Authorities have declined to release the contents of the note.

Hess, 43, told investigators he called 911 and grabbed the note and pills off her bed stand and stuck them in his car so her parents wouldn’t think she took pills and killed herself.

“I know doing that was – was stupid, but I was trying to save some embarrassment for her,” the doctor told investigators, according to the affidavit. Asked why he hid the items, Hess said, “I have no idea. I mean that – that whole thing was a – was a fuzz for me.”

During the 911 call, the emergency operator told Hess, “Try not to touch anything.”

He replied, “Yes ma’am.”

Hess was arrested Tuesday on a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge and was released a short time later after posting $637 in bail. Henderson assistant city attorney David Mincavage said the nonviolent misdemeanor charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Authorities have not said whether Blasberg was being treated by Hess.

Hess was unavailable for comment Wednesday, according to a person who answered the phone at his medical office. Calls to Hess’ lawyer, Charles Kelly, were not immediately returned.

The Clark County coroner’s office ruled Tuesday that Blasberg’s death was a suicide due to asphyxia and toxic levels of prescription medications for headaches, cough, pain and anxiety.

The drugs in Blasberg’s system included butalbital, temazepam, alprazolam (Xanax), codeine, hydrocodone, and tramadol, according to the coroner, but Nevada law doesn’t permit the release of details on the amounts of medication.

A 911 call from Hess that summoned police came from the house. Officers found Hess outside the home and Blasberg’s body inside. Blasberg’s agent has said her bags were packed for a tournament in Mobile, Ala., when she was found.

Hess, who has said he was a friend of Blasberg who “knew her from the golf club,” told a death scene investigator he played golf with Blasberg on May 7, two days before she died, at the Southern Highlands Golf Club. They met afterward at the M Hotel and Casino to watch a game on TV and left in separate cars about 9 p.m.

The next evening, Hess talked to Blasberg by telephone and he said she sounded intoxicated. He drove to her Henderson home and found her drunk, the affidavit said. He emptied bottles of liquor, ordered her to take a shower upstairs and they both watched TV on a downstairs couch until he left at 9 p.m.

Hess said he called her several times the next day and got no answer, so he drove to her house and found her dead.

Blasberg grew up in Southern California, and was in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour.

Her best year on Tour 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.

Blasberg played in one event this season, tying for 44th in the April 29-May 2 Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico.

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HOFer Stephenson: Robbie wants to play me in movie

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

Margot Robbie has already starred in one sports-related biopic, and if she gets her way a second opportunity might not be far behind.

Robbie earned an Academy Award nomination for her work last year as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie, I Tonya. She also has a desire to assume the role of her fellow Aussie, Jan Stephenson, in a movie where she would trade in her skates for a set of golf clubs.

That's at least according to Stephenson, who floated out the idea during an interview with Golf Australia's Inside the Ropes podcast shortly after being announced as part of the next class of World Golf Hall of Fame inductees.

"We've talked about doing a movie. Margot Robbie wants to play me," Stephenson said.

There certainly would be a resemblance between the two Australian blondes, as Robbie has become one of Hollywood's leading ladies while Stephenson was on the cutting edge of sex appeal during her playing career. In addition to several magazine covers, Stephenson also racked up 16 LPGA wins between 1976-87 including three majors.

Robbie, 28, has also had starring roles in Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin: