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May 12, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Obama snubs Limbaugh, more on Blasberg and another Harmon for Tiger

According to The New York Post, Zev Chafet's new biography of conservative stalwart Rush Limbaugh reveals that he tentatively sought out a presidential pairing last year, only to be rebuffed by the Golfer in Chief.

"You guys are both golfers," Chafets told Limbaugh. "Would you play a round with the president and show the country that there are no hard feelings?"

"He's the president of the United States," Limbaugh told Chafets. "If any president asked me to meet him, or play golf with him, I'd do it. But I promise you that will never happen. His base on the left would have a s--t-fit."

"How about letting me ask?" Chafets said.

"Go ahead," Limbaugh said. "Nothing will come of it."

Chafets writes that he reached out to Obama adviser David Axelrod, "whom I know slightly," but Axelrod didn't return calls. Then Chafets spoke to "a very senior Democratic activist with whom I'm friendly" who said he would convey the message. A day or two later the adviser responded, "Limbaugh can play with himself." Chafets wouldn't name the aide or say whether the quote was directly from Obama.

While I would love to see Obama and Limbaugh (a purported 16-handicap) teeing it up, I can't blame the President for turning down the request. Rush doesn't exactly seem like the kind of guy who would stop talking in your backswing.

VIDEO UPDATE: Limbaugh responds to Page 6 report.

Unanswered questions in Erica Blasberg's death

When dealing with an epically heartbreaking event like the death of 25-year-old LPGA player Erica Blasberg, it's tempting to write, "what more can you say?" and just try to move on. But the truth is that, somehow, we know as little (or somehow seemingly less) about her tragic last day than we did on Sunday, when her body was discovered at her home in Nevada. Christian Red from The New York Daily News gives the latest update on the investigation, which is startlingly low on details after this much time.

The sudden death of a beautiful young LPGA golfer remained shrouded in mystery Tuesday, when her father said he has serious questions about how she died.

"At first glance, it looks like she might have taken her own life, but at second glance, something is very, very strange about it," Mel Blasberg told the Riverside Press-Enterprise in California. "Either way, I lost her and it's impossible to deal with."

Erica Blasberg, a 25-year-old two-time All-American from the University of Arizona, was found dead Sunday in her two-story, three-bedroom home in Henderson, Nev.

"She died on Mother's Day. [Her mom, Debra Blasberg] didn't get the phone call, so she knew something was wrong," the golfer's aunt, Ilene Osinski, told the Daily News. Police won't say how she died.

Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul called it "a death investigation." He wouldn't say who placed the 3 p.m. 911 call.

In a more personal look at the effect this tragedy is having, The New York Times' Karen Crouse talked to some of Blasberg's comrades and competitors yesterday.

The practice range is where the women of the L.P.G.A. Tour gather early in the workweek to exchange gossip and girl talk. It is their water cooler, a usually festive place where beautiful swings compete with buoyant personalities for attention.

A pall hung over the range at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove on Tuesday as competitors in this week’s Bell Micro L.P.G.A. Classic struggled to accept that Erica Blasberg would not be blowing through like a welcome breeze.

After hitting a few shots, Irene Cho stood with red-rimmed eyes and talked about the plans she had made with Blasberg, her best friend on the tour, to meet for dinner the night before Blasberg, 25, played for a spot in the field during Monday qualifying.

They had confirmed plans in a phone conversation last week, but Blasberg never made it. She was found dead on Sunday afternoon after the police responded to a 911 call from Blasberg’s suburban Las Vegas home.

“I think everybody is kind of shocked,” Cho said.

Crouse's piece also includes an interesting fact that seems to have gone unreported elsewhere. Blasberg's agent has stated that her bags were packed to attend this week's tournament in Alabama, but Irene Cho's caddy (who was supposed to be on Blasberg's bag Monday) says she received a text from Blasberg in the middle of the night on Saturday/Sunday, saying that she wouldn't be coming. 

Also, Stephanie Wei at "Wei Under Par" has an LPGA memo regarding a memorial service and tribute to Blasberg tonight at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Needless to say, we will be covering this story as respectfully as we can over the coming days and weeks. Our thoughts are with Blasberg's family as well as her friends and colleagues on the LPGA Tour.

Tiger to work with Harmon? No, not that one, the other one

Call me a latte-sipping, arugala-eating, East Coast liberal elitest, but I just couldn't get enough of The New York Times this morning. Bill Pennington, writing for their On Par golf blog, has an interesting suggestion for where Tiger might look in his search for a Hank Haney replacement.

And while Woods’s former and highly successful coach, Butch Harmon, is being mentioned in every story about the Haney/Woods split, it is hard to imagine any scenario that puts Woods and Harmon in a player/coach relationship again. One, Woods does not admit mistakes all that often, and two, Harmon is currently being paid to help Phil Mickelson usurp Woods as the No. 1 player in the world.

So there’s just a bit of conflict of interest there.

Others, like the Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who has been incisive on the deteriorating Woods golf game in recent weeks, suggested that Woods start visiting a different Harmon, Butch’s brother Billy. There are three Harmon brothers, all of them noted golf teachers, as was their father, Claude. Another brother, Dick, died unexpectedly in 2006 and at one time tutored Fred Couples, Lanny Wadkins, Jay Haas and Lucas Glover, who went on to win the 2009 United States Open. Craig Harmon is the well-known pro at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester.

This isn't the first time I've heard Billy Harmon mentioned as a good coaching candidate for Woods, but Pennington's reasoning is interesting, in that it goes beyond just coaching ability. Pennington suggests that Billy, who is the most affable of the three Harmon brothers, might not just instill a change of swing, but also a change of attitude from the suddenly morose No. 1 golfer.

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