Death and Life Experiences

By Mercer BaggsMay 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
Life is all about experiences, a friend used to say; though, he experienced life in the ways of Jimi Hendrix.
 
He was, in his own spaced out way, partly correct. Experiences do make life. But sometimes its what we dont experience that prolongs it.
 
Kelly Jo and Dakoda Dowd
Kelly Jo and Dakoda share a hug at the 2006 Ginn Open. (Getty Images)
Sometimes we are fortunate enough to not have to experience something because someone before us already has. Sometimes that precedent individual is a martyr; sometimes just an unwilling victim.
 
Sometimes a very brave, unwilling victim.
 
Kelly Jo Dowd died last week due to cancer. It got in her bones, got in her organs and finally got the better of her body Thursday night in her condo outside of Tampa, Fla. She was 42.
 
The nation got a chance to see Kelly Jos courage last year as she got to watch her little girl compete on the LPGA Tour.
 
All Kelly Jo ever really wanted was to see her daughter, Dakoda, play on the LPGA. She knew that, with Dakodas talent, one day that would be a possibility. She also knew that, with her condition, one more day was always an uncertainty.
 
In late 2001, Kelly Jo discovered a lump in her breast. Ten months later it was diagnosed as cancer. That delay was costly. It cost Kelly Jo both of her breasts in a double mastectomy and much of her health through intense chemotherapy.
 
She eventually beat cancer into remission. But cancer is unrelenting, a general who loses a battle only to return with twice as much conquering force as before.
 
The Dowd family discovered two years ago that the cancer was back. And this time it wasnt concentrated in her breasts; it was just about everywhere.
 
Devastating, Mike Dowd said last year, recalling when he received the initial news.
 
It was Mike who had to give the diagnosis and prognosis to his wife. It was Dakoda who had always been a daddys girl.
 
Now she's a mama's girl, Kelly Jo said at last years Ginn Open.
 
Real estate mogul Bobby Ginn extended a sponsors invitation to then 13-year-old Dakoda to compete in his Ginn Open, thus allowing her mother the opportunity to see Dakoda compete on the LPGA Tour.
 
In a pre-tournament press conference, Mike, Dakoda and Kelly Jo all sat in a row before the media. Mike would make jokes and Dakoda would roll her eyes like a teen-aged girl with a too-cool dad. Kelly Jo talked about mother/daughter day. They answered questions about the past and contemplated those on the future.
 
And Kelly Jo made sure to make a statement. For as much as this was a gift for the family, it was also a great opportunity, a national podium for Kelly Jo to help others avoid her mistake.
 
As long as we get our message out there about metastatic breast cancer and as long as I can get my message out there about women not waiting, I'll be thrilled, Kelly Jo said.
 
As Dakoda prepared to hit her opening tee shot in the tournament, Kelly Jo bowed her head nervously and prayerfully. She then looked up to see her angel hit a drive straight and true. She let out some praise, lifted her hands above her head and met Dakoda halfway with a big, loving, prideful hug.
 
Dakoda shot 74 that Thursday and 82 that Friday. She missed the cut, but fulfilled a dream.
 
After putting herself in contention to make the cut following her opening score, Dakoda wondered aloud why women ' i.e. her mother ' always cry when something good happens.
 
Okay, I guess I'm a hypocrite, Dakoda said a day later. Yeah, okay, I cried because I was happy. But a little bit of it was, I was really, really happy, but I was really, really sad.
 
Said Kelly Jo to the media: I realize Dakoda didn't make the cut today, but as far as you guys know, she made Mama's cut today.
 
Thanks, Mom, responded Dakoda.
 
Kelly Jo Dowd was a wife and a mother. She was a model of beauty turned restaurant manager turned cancer victim turned model of inspiration.
 
There was a time when she wanted to give up. She didnt want to go through that second tour of chemo. There was also a time when Dakoda wanted to quit playing golf, when she wanted to give it all up to spend every moment possible with a mother whose life had been put on notice.
 
They helped each other to continue, to move forward.
 
Dakoda continues to play golf. She recently failed to advance through local qualifying for the U.S. Womens Open, but she will be a freshman this fall in Tampa and anticipates making the boys golf team.
 
She will continue without her mother in body, but with her in memory.
 
And if we can remember Kelly Jo as well, then some of us may avoid having to experience what she did. Which is exactly what she would want.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Golf Phenom Dakoda Dowd's Mother Dies
  • 2006 Ginn Open Coverage
  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and 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.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.