May
20
2010
"The Girl Who Could Floor You With a Grin"
By Stephanie Wei under General

Speaking at Erica Blasberg’s public memorial service, Shane Bacon described her as “the girl who could floor you with a grin.” Friends and family gathered to remember the LPGA golfer at Eagle Glen Golf Club in her hometown, Corona, CA, on Wednesday.

Afterward, I chatted with Ray Kim, Erica’s close friend and former caddie, who also spoke at the service. He shared with me some pictures and anecdotes that reveal the goofy, fun-loving side of her personality — the one most didn’t get to see while she was competing.

A huge thanks to Ray for giving me permission to share them with you all. He “loved the idea of more people getting to see a side of Erica different than just swinging a golf club.”

Last summer when I interviewed Ray, he showed me many of the same photos and told stories of the good times they had together when he looped for her in 2008. Here’s one of my favorites:

[In 2008] at a tournament in Orlando, FL, we were walking down the fairway that had houses along the hole and on someone’s balcony, there was a sign, “We love you Natalie [Gulbis], Call me [phone number]” Erica and I were laughing about it and she thought it’d be funny if we prank called him. She asked me to write [the number] down.

As I started writing it in the yardage book, I tripped in a huge pothole and fell on my face with the bag on top of me. Erica just laughed and kept walking. It was even more ridiculous because of the reason why I fell – I was looking at a fan poster, writing down a guy’s number to call him and pretend we were Natalie Gulbis.

I had to walk around with a towel over my head for the next three holes because I couldn’t stop laughing. It was my only fall of the year.

The top photo was taken in 2008 at the Corning Classic in Corning, NY. After Erica had just shot her best round, 65, on Tour, she and Ray went to look for a place to grab a bite. They passed by a farm of cows, alpacas and donkeys — which for her, “was a Kodak moment.”

Here, in a practice round at the Corning event, she didn’t think it was going to rain and took the rain gear out of her bag to make it lighter for Ray.

“I found that out when it started raining and when I looked at her, she was laughing,” he recalled.

This was one of Erica’s favorite things to do on the course.

She loved taking pictures — even of someone taking one.

This was in Erica’s hotel room at the LPGA event in Morelia, Mexico. Ray said, “Probably one of the funniest pictures ever.”

“We were just goofing off. She was wearing someone’s hat and shades. As she was just falling off the bed, we happened to capture the magical moment. That’s Irene [Cho’s] hand trying to save her.”

“Last week [at the LPGA memorial service] I was talking about how excited Erica got over random things, which led into this story,” Ray said.

“We were housing together and I was taking an afternoon nap. She woke me up by shooting me with the water gun. She had bought five water guns for us, her friend, and the kids in the house. She just looked so excited — like a five-year-old on Christmas morning. We had a water gun fight for a couple of hours.”

When Erica had a Facebook account, her comment on this picture was, “Dude, why do we look so weird in this pic?”

“We had just gotten chocolate shakes from Steak n’ Shake and Taylor Swift started playing on the radio. She was so psyched and wanted me to take a picture and took her hands off the wheel for it.”

Ray, who was in the passenger seat, wasn’t as thrilled since she was driving on the highway.

Finally, here’s Ray and Erica toasting to a great year on Tour together in Morelia, Mexico. Erica is very missed. Once again, my sincerest condolences to her friends and family.