Teen Fulfilling a Dream Raising Awareness

By Associated PressApril 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Ginn OpenREUNION, Fla. -- After Kelly Jo Dowd was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in four years last May, she started setting aside days to spend with her 13-year-old daughter, Dakoda.
 
Sometimes they shop. Sometimes they get manicures and pedicures. Sometimes they just hang out and listen to music. Regardless of the mother/daughter day agenda, they try to create a lasting memory.
 
Theres a good chance the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open will provide an experience even more special for them.
 
Dakoda Dowd received a sponsors exemption to play in the event near Orlando, fulfilling her mothers dying wish to see her little girl compete against the worlds best. She will tee off Thursday in the opening round. (See Dakoda's Scorecard)
 
I dont even know how to explain it, Kelly Jo said Wednesday. This is a dream come true for me, and if youve ever had a dream come true for you, you know its very intense emotions that go along with it. I know that Ill break down. There will be tears of joy and tears of happiness.
 
Dakowda Dowd
Dakoda Dowd is paired with Kate Golden and Tracy Hanson in the first two rounds this week.
Dakoda has spent the last six months preparing for the event. She played the course several times and handled numerous interviews, all in hopes of making this a defining moment for her and her cancer-stricken mother.
 
Six months turned into like six days, said the bubbly teen with plenty of game. It went by really fast. Ill be nervous, but I cant wait.
 
The full-field event includes Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and just about everyone else in the top 50 on the money list.
 
But Dakoda has received more attention than any of them, and for good reason.
 
She started playing golf when she was 4, using cut-down clubs and taking tips from her father, Mike. But it didnt take long for her to start getting around courses better than him.
 
She took lessons, continued to improve and eventually won countless junior events. She started thinking about competing on the LPGA Tour, but she never thought it would happen this soon.
 
Her mother made it possible.
 
A former Hooters calendar girl who worked her way into the companys management team, Kelly Jo noticed a lump in her breast in 2001. At first, she didnt do anything about it. Ten months later, at age 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy, nearly two dozen lymph nodes removed and endured intense chemotherapy.
 
She thought she had it beat'until last May, when doctors found the cancer had returned and was much worse than before. It was in her hip bone, her liver and was nearing her spine.
 
Bobby Ginn, the CEO of Ginn Clubs and Resorts, heard about the familys fight and extended Dakoda an invitation to play in the inaugural event.
 
We had to decide: Are we going to shy away or stand up? said Mike Dowd, a school counselor in Palm Harbor. We decided that we wanted to stand up. We wanted to get the message out there. Its very important to be able to say to women, Do your shower exams, get your mammograms and love each other and persevere through this.
 
We cant kid anybody. This is an extremely difficult thing were dealing with as a family, but Ive got great women.
 
Dakoda has handled the attention well. She played a practice round Tuesday with Sorenstam and Paula Creamer and seemed unfazed by the cameras and reporters following her every move and all the interviews that came after.
 
The key for her is just to come out, enjoy it, absorb the atmosphere, Sorenstam said. Its a fantastic place to be. I told her, Enjoy this week. This is what this is all about. Its more about being part of the whole thing and just being able to fulfill a dream. Its pretty cool.
 
Dakoda has no misconceptions about her main goal this week. Its not competing for the title or making the cut or shooting a low score. This is about much more'just like those mother-daughter days.
 
Im not sure what Im going to shoot, she said. Its just a great experience. Im just looking forward to my mom being there and whatever happens, happens.
 
Related Links
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
     
  • Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.