Dakoda and Dying Mom Embrace the Moment

By Associated PressApril 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Ginn OpenREUNION, Fla. -- When her family moved from a spacious house into a tiny townhome, Dakoda Dowd gave more than 100 of her golf trophies away, saying she didn't need to keep them.
 
She added one to her collection Friday -- and it's not going anywhere.
 
Adding to what her cancer-stricken and terminally ill mother, Kelly Jo Dowd, called 'the perfect week,' the 13-year-old golf prodigy and her family received a replica of the winner's trophy on the 18th green early Friday evening after finishing her second round at the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open.
 
Dakoda -- who shot an 82, eight shots higher than her Thursday score -- missed the cut by eight strokes.
 
Nobody minded, of course.
 
'I'm prouder today than I was yesterday that my daughter has the courage and strength to play with these LPGA professionals,' Kelly Jo said. 'And I feel great right now. I feel great. My dream came true out here. I saw my girl play with these amazing women. My dream came true.'
 
The scene shortly after Dakoda tapped in for a double bogey on the 18th was one normally reserved for champions, and Ginn tournament officials felt the Dowd family certainly qualified as such. Knowing that Kelly Jo adored the large Chihuly glass bowl that'll be awarded to the winner on Sunday, a replica was made.
 
A scant few were in on the secret, which was kept from Kelly Jo and Dakoda -- both of whom gasped when the gift was unveiled.
 
'I didn't want it to be over,' Dakoda said. 'And it is. And with all the prayers and everything, me and my mom and my family are going to keep living. It's definitely touched us. Our family's so much stronger now.'
 
The touching ceremony capped Dakoda's first LPGA Tour experience.
 
She was invited to play after event organizers learned that Kelly Jo -- who doctors say may only have months to live -- wanted to see her daughter play against the pros once in her lifetime. So Ginn organizers offered a sponsor's exemption, which eventually became a special exemption through the LPGA.
 
'She's a good player now, and she's going to be a really good player,' said Kate Golden, who and Tracy Hanson were the pros in Dakoda's threesome. 'I enjoyed it. She's a good kid. Her parents are great and it was a good experience. I'm so glad she was able to play.'
 
Golden and Hanson even had a bit of fun with Dakoda, giving her a nickname: 'Nubby.'
 
'She was chewing her fingernails for two days straight,' Golden said. 'I said she's going to have to meet people with her elbows, because eventually she was going to chew her arm off.'
 
Dakoda's gallery was the second-largest on the course Friday, an estimated 300 people. Tournament officials said only the superstar-laden trio of Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer had more people following their round.
 
'It's crazy. Absolutely crazy,' said Mike Dowd, Dakoda's father. 'I think this is great for Dakoda. She does love it. Makes it a lot more fun for her, unlike all those days of practicing with no one around.'
 
And on almost every hole, someone -- often someone Kelly Jo didn't know -- approached her, simply to say hello or give her a hug. 'Thank you for being here,' she would say, before getting back into her cart and being shuttled to the spot where Dakoda would play from next.
 
'I love the crowds,' Kelly Jo said. 'All it means is people are cheering for us and respecting my little girl and wanting us to do well. So I love it. I'm so proud of it.'
 
Dakoda was tied for 53rd after the first round, beating or tying 15 women who've combined to win 33 major championships. Among them: Karrie Webb, Birdie Kim, Jeong Jang, Grace Park, Meg Mallon, Karen Stupples and Hilary Lunke -- all major winners at some point in the last three years.
 
And long after Thursday's round was done, Kelly Jo took Dakoda to work on her driving.
 
Alas, no golf clubs were involved.
 
'We did some mother-daughter bonding,' Kelly Jo said. 'I let her drive the car in a secluded parking lot. She did great. Then we cranked up some music, Pink's 'Stupid Girls,' and just danced right there. And then we went swimming. It was wonderful. We had fun. That's what this week has been about for us.'
 
Dakoda hit a perfect drive to open her second round, straight down the middle and longer than her two pro playing partners. She opened with three straight pars -- prompting whispers among her supporters that maybe, just maybe, she could make the cut.
 
Wishful thinking. Too wishful, actually.
 
Dakoda made three straight bogeys on Nos. 4-6. Another bogey on the ninth pushed her to 6 over for the tournament -- two strokes off the eventual cut line, and she never flirted with it again.
 
She made a double bogey at No. 12, hitting one putt off the green as her mom's head slumped. Another bogey followed at 13, and Dakoda couldn't hide the disappointment on her face as she slowly walked away. Yet when she failed to get out of a greenside bunker on 18, she spun and smiled sheepishly.
 
'It's OK,' one woman yelled.
 
'Don't worry about it,' a man shouted.
 
'You can do it,' added another man.
 
Her next try did get out of the bunker and hit the green. Hanson and Golden both putted out first, leaving one last moment for Dakoda. And when the last putt Kelly Jo's hands went skyward, index fingers raised.
 
Moments later, mother and daughter shared another long embrace. And Dakoda, one day after chiding her mother for crying on the course, broke into sobs.
 
'She made mama's cut today,' Kelly Jo said.
 
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.