|04-27-2006, 06:40 PM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
Dakoda Dowd Shoots 74
I don't know if anyone here's knows this story but it's inspirational, and heartbreaking both! 13 year Dakoda Dowd is playing in a LPGA tournament on a sponsors exemption, a dream of her mother, Kelly Jo Dowd.
Kelly Jo, the first Hooter's girl to manage her own Hooter's franchise, was diagnosed with breast cancer some years back. She had a double mastectomy and was declared cancer free four years ago. She was told last year that the cancer was back but throughout her body now (terminal).
I watched a special on the Dowd family a couple nights ago. A truly special family!
Girl 2-over-par in tourney for dying mom
Dowd, 13, birdies first hole in LPGA event featuring Sorenstam, Creamer
Updated: 7:07 p.m. ET April 27, 2006
REUNION, Fla. - Dakoda Dowd had two sets of three-putts, made three bogeys, finished nine shots off the lead and the 13-year-old doesn’t expect to make the cut.
And in her mother’s eyes, the day was perfect.
“Fantabulous,” Kelly Jo Dowd said. “I have to make up my own vocabulary to describe it.”
Dakoda Dowd, 13, left, gets a hug from her mother, Kelly Jo, after she hit her first tee shot in the opening round.
With one swing of the driver at 9:32 a.m. Thursday, and the 73 shots that followed over the next five hours, Dakoda made Kelly Jo’s dream came true. The teen made her LPGA debut at the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open, which extended the terminally ill mother a chance to see her daughter compete against the game’s best.
Dakoda finished the day with a 2-over 74, nine shots behind Cristie Kerr. Yet for the first time in Dakoda’s golf life, winning wasn’t the goal, nor the plan.
“I didn’t have any expectations for this tournament, except to go out there and have a great time and look over and see my mom,” said Dakoda, a winner of more than 100 tournaments and ranked among the nation’s best 13-year-old players. “It did feel good shooting 74. I’m just really happy to be here.”
So is her mom, on a number of different levels.
Kelly Jo Dowd is fighting cancer for the second time in four years. She was given a clean bill of health after doctors believed she beat breast cancer, but she learned last year that she has terminal bone and liver cancer — and, conceivably, only months to live.
She wept and smiled when the starter announced Dakoda on the tee box as “a remarkable young lady.” And the tears stopped when Dakoda hit a perfect drive down the left-center of the fairway to open her round — setting up her only birdie of the day, one that followed an approach to 2 feet on the 528-yard par-5.
“She’s playing with a heart full of love for her mom,” said Mike Dowd, Dakoda’s father. “The kid’s got this in her, but I think this is more about God doing something for our lives right now. We walk out of our house this morning and see a rainbow. Then a birdie on the first hole. Come on. There’s something else going on here.”
When Ginn officials learned of Kelly Jo’s wish to see her daughter play on the LPGA Tour, they offered a sponsor’s exemption into the field. Dakoda was paired with Kate Golden and Tracy Hanson — both at least 21 years older than the phenom — and held her own, even outdriving both pros on a couple occasions.
Golden told Kelly Jo before the round not to worry, that “we’ll take good care of your girl.” And Hanson was particularly touched by Dakoda’s story, since cancer claimed her mother nearly eight years ago.
“God knocked me on the head and said, ’Now, wait a minute. You have a purpose and a reason for being in that group,”’ said Hanson, who shot 69. “I lost my mom to cancer, so it’s very near and dear to my heart, their story. And it was a little emotional there on the first tee.”
Dakoda arrived at the driving range 90 minutes before her starting time, looking relaxed. She chewed on her right thumbnail for a few minutes before teeing off, then hugged her mother and exhaled in relief when that first ball hit the fairway.
Junior golfer Dakoda Dowd, 13, sits with her mother, Kelly Jo Dowd, in their apartment. Kelly Jo has terminal cancer and it is her wish to see her daughter play against the best women golfers in the world. Dakoda was given an exemption to play in this week's LPGA Ginn Open.
“She wasn’t nervous at all,” said Kristi Dowd, Dakoda’s 20-year-old half-sister, who was among the flock of family and friends wearing pink-trimmed hats and visors with “KJ” stitched on the side. “I’m more nervous than she is. She’s always like that. It’s a blessing, for sure. It’s a dream come true.”