Dakoda Dowd, who lives in Palm Harbor, Florida, is a
golf prodigy who has won more than 185 junior
tournaments and is the top-ranked American golfer in her
Dakoda Dowd's mother, Kelly Jo Dowd, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2002. Kelly Jo underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments. Doctors believed the cancer had gone into remission, but several years later, Kelly Jo was discovered to have metastatic cancer in her bones and liver. The Dowd family was devastated and Dakoda scaled back her golf activities in order to spend more time with her mother, who doctors said could have only months to live. The Dowds were forced to move into a studio apartment due to medical costs and the loss of Kelly Jo's income, despite fundraising efforts by Kelly Jo's former employer, Hooters. At times, Dakoda even considered quitting golf, but her father, Michael, and Kelly Jo encouraged her to keep playing.
In March of 2006, Dakoda Dowd received a sponsor's exemption to play in the inaugural LPGA Ginn Open after the CEO of Ginn Clubs & Resorts, Bobby Ginn, heard about Kelly Jo's plight and her dream to see her daughter play in an LPGA event. Dakoda's story attracted considerable media attention and she was followed by a large gallery during the tournament. She birdied the first hole she played and went on to finish the first round with a 2-over par score of 74. Although Dakoda ended up missing the cut, the experience was nevertheless described as "fantabulous" by Kelly Jo and "super surreal" by Dakoda.
Dakoda Dowd plans to attend the University of Georgia and aspires to become a full-time player on the LPGA Tour.