This one's kind of hard to take.
In the 2004 U.S. Women's Open, Bernadette and Erica played their first two rounds together. (Neither girl made the cut.) Both girls' fathers caddied for them. In December of that year, both went through the same Q-school and won their LPGA cards as fully exempt players. In June of 2005, at the LPGA Championship in Havre de Grace, Md., we ran into Erica in the lobby of our motel, so Bern invited her to dinner. She accepted and seemed delighted to have someone to hang out with. On the course she was fiercely competitive (testimony to which, not all of it flattering, I can give but will not), but off the course could be quite engaging. She was blessed with a big bright smile. I got the sense that evening of someone mildly struggling to put herself at ease with her company, of trying to enjoy a 'normal' moment, but maybe I read too much into it. It might have been due merely to my presence. Fathers are conversation inhibitors.
I took a picture of her and Bern in front of the motel, but now I can't find it.
Another memory sticks in the mind. A few weeks later at the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Denver, we ran into Erica on the driving range. She and Bern hugged, of course, and then Bern asked her what time she teed off. Well, it turned out that during qualifying she had finished as an alternate, and was hanging around hoping that a spot would open up. It didn't. She had traveled a long way from somewhere just on a hope.
Like Paula Creamer, she had been one of those young phenoms just before the arrival of Michele Wie. She was a two time All-American at Arizona, and a Curtis Cup player. She had one good year on tour; the others were a struggle. This current year she had conditional status, which means waiting around for a phone call telling you that there's a spot open because the field didn't fill, or playing Monday qualifiers. It's a miserable grind either way. Nevertheless, she had recently qualified for a tournament in Mexico, Lorena Ochoa's curtain call, and had finished 44th.
I got another impression, too: that Erica didn't have many friends on Tour, keeping mostly to herself. (There is testimony to this as well.) But Bernadette was her friend, and liked her a lot. That friend is at the moment stunned by the news, and busy recalling all the times they ate out together, played practice rounds and pro-ams together, and equally busy trying to understand.
Erica Blasberg was 25. There's a story here; the authorities aren't saying much about the circumstances, for it appears an investigation is underway. God rest her.