Four years ago, Dakoda Dowd of Tampa was 13 and the youngest ever to compete in an LPGA event, courtesy of Bobby Ginn, who had read of the plight of her mother Kelly Jo and offered Dakoda a sponsor exemption into the Ginn Open. Kelly Jo was dying of cancer and lamenting the fact she might never see her daughter play on the LPGA.
Kelly Jo died in May of 2007. And what became of Dakoda?
"I had a hole in my heart and it was like I was dead set on filling it with negative things," she told Joey Johnston of the Tampa Tribune, who has the story of the difficulty she encountered in dealing with the death of her mother. Johnston's story is here.
Dakota was angry enough to give up golf and eventually dropped out of high school. "She experimented with alcohol, smoked a few cigarettes. She hung with an edgy crowd and shut everyone else out," Johnston wrote.
Dowd finally has made peace with herself and has returned to golf. Next month, she will enroll at Daytona State College, a four-time winner of the women's junior college national championship, and she will begin working toward an LPGA career.
-- John Strege