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Erica Blasberg's "Very, Very Strange" Death

We're still trying to put the pieces together in the wake of the LPGA tour pro's death at the age of 25, a death that her father thinks doesn't add up.

Blasberg was found dead Sunday afternoon at her home in Henderson, outside of Las Vegas. Thus far, very little information has been released, and police have said they won't venture a cause of death until an autopsy is completed. But a statement from her father sheds some light on what may be the working theory:

At first glance it looks like she might have taken her own life, but at second glance, something is very, very strange about it," said Erica's father, Mel Blasberg, by phone from Nevada. "We're waiting for the police to make an investigation, it's a pending investigation.

"Either way, I lost her and it's impossible to deal with."

It must be incomprehensible to lose a daughter, and doubly so if the verdict is suicide. It's natural to look for another explanation, but a look at Blasberg's career shows someone struggling to meet early expectations, and a bit of a loner.

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Blasberg first made headlines in 2003, as the country's top ranked collegiate golfer. "Skip," as her teammates at Arizona called her, was a very different person off the course.

Laura Ianello (nee Myerscough) was a senior when Blasberg burst onto the college scene as a freshman. Ianello, who now is an assistant coach at Arizona, said Blasberg was a "fireball" on the golf course but off of it, the ultimate girly girl, with painted nails and ribbons in her hair. She devoured gossip magazines such as In Touch and US Weekly on college trips.

"She had to have her mascara on before she'd step out of the hotel," Ianello said.

She decided to go pro as a sophomore, and had early success on the Futures Tour. Her performance in Q-School landed her a spot on the LPGA Tour the following season.

But she couldn't keep up the momentum. 2005 was a rough year, highlighted by a dispute with officials over a scoring decision, and a publicized spat with her caddy.

Our goal was never for her to be the best player," Mel Blasberg said. "Our goal was to be one of the better players and also to be one of those players that would be a symbol for the LPGA of the future. You don't have to be the best to be the symbol, and the first few years she got a taste of that.

"I think there was frustration after she had that good year, she never really regained that form. But I think she had to lose it all to regain it, and she was ready to find it again."

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Because of her looks and personality, she achieved a modicum of popularity despite her struggles. Puma signed her to an endorsement deal in 2006, but later dropped her as she failed to live up to the hype on the course. She never finished in the top 100 on the money list, and had to do well at Q-School every fall just to stay on the tour.

Things reached a low in 2009, when a bad back limited her play, and she failed to qualify for the 2010 season. Through five years of being on the fringes of the leaderboard, she never appeared to make many friends.

Blasberg tended to keep to herself on tour, with [coach Greg] Allen noting that it as hard for anyone to "get close to Skip."

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So if it looks "at first glance" that she might have taken her own life, it wouldn't be too far beyond the realm of possibility. Blasberg was someone who expected the world — based on her early success and the fawning of the looks-obsessed sponsors and media — and was having trouble living up to the promise. And it doesn't sound like there was anyone on tour she could confide in.

It's a long way from her earliest days on the LPGA tour, when she sounded like what she was: a 20-year-old girl living her dream:

I am having so much fun," Ms. Blasberg wrote in an entry that ran March 9, 2005. "The way you're treated is like you are a queen or something. It seems like almost any request you have, from getting to the mall to getting the exact food you want, is taken care of by someone.

"I mean, what's better than a life where everyone around you seems to want to make you happy?"

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Remembering Erica Blasberg [Yahoo!]
Local LPGA pro Blasberg, 25, found dead [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Former Corona High star and LPGA pro, Erica Blasberg, dead at 25 [Press-Enterprise]
LPGA player Erica Blasberg, 25, dies [Golfweek]

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