LPGA mourns Blasberg at Tour stop

LPGA mourns Blasberg at Tour stop

Players and caddies wore purple ribbons in honor of Erica Blasberg, who passed away last week.
Mike Ehrmann/SI

MOBILE, Ala. — As the members of the LPGA streamed into the clubhouse at Magnolia Grove on Wednesday evening, they were handed a small program at the entrance. On its front flap was a picture of the golfer Erica Blasberg, her vibrant smile a reminder of someone remembered and someone lost.

“Erica’s passing, it takes your breath away,” said Lorie Kane, who was among those gathered during an emotional 90-minute memorial service that celebrated Blasberg, who died Sunday at age 25 at her home in Henderson, Nev.

During the service, Blasberg’s peers took turns telling stories of her life. Cris Stevens, the Tour chaplain, opened the service with a reading of Psalm 23. Mike Whan, the tour’s new commissioner, closed it by saying he understood that the LPGA was indeed a family. In the middle of the service, a video of a smiling Blasberg played to the sound of a song by Michael Jackson: “Gone Too Soon.”

“It’s just a shock to me,” said Michelle Wie, who was Blasberg’s teammate at the 2004 Curtis Cup. “I still think that she’s going to come out next week.”

Many of those gathered had been crying for days, trying to make sense of the loss of a competitor and friend. Leta Lindley, who like Blasberg attended the University of Arizona, broke down as she spoke. Kris Tamulis, who started playing on the Tour in 2005, the same year as Blasberg, wiped away tears during an interview in front of the clubhouse with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“Every 10 minutes I just stare into space,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m not going to see her.”

On Thursday, as the first round of the LPGA’s Bell Micro Classic began, the golf course was a quiet place. The United States flag was at half staff, the mood somber, the cheering muted. The golfers wore purple ribbons on their caps and shirts as a tribute to Blasberg, who sometimes wore the color in her clothing ensemble.

Blasberg had been scheduled to play in the Monday qualifier here, two weeks after she carded a final-round 70 to finish tied for 44th at the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico. Instead, as a tour struggled to make sense of her loss, Blasberg’s family was planning a second memorial service Wednesday in Corona, Calif., where she was born.