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
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry