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.
Getty Images

Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.


A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

Getty Images

Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

Getty Images

5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

Getty Images

Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”