Golf Prodigy Shines, But Sadness Looms

This is Dakoda Dowd's moment to shine. The 13-year-old golf prodigy is playing in her very first professional tournament. It's a dream come true not only for Dakoda, but for her mother, Kelly Jo Dowd, who is suffering from cancer.

Watching her daughter's debut at the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open outside of Orlando, Fla., Kelly Jo Dowd could hardly contain her excitement.

For a little while, dark reality — terminal cancer in her hip and liver — was forgotten, replaced by the thrill of seeing her daughter compete against the best female players in the world.

"How good is this?" she asked as the name Dakoda Dowd — who made a short putt to birdie her very first hole — appeared on an LPGA leaderboard for the first time.

As The Early Show weatherman Dave Price reported Friday, CBS News first met Dakoda back in November, when she was still just 12. Her mother's cancer had already been diagnosed, and seeing her daughter play professionally was still just a dream. "She's keeping me alive, she's giving me strength, she's giving me hope," Kelly Jo said then.

Dakoda made her long-awaited LPGA debut Thursday, shooting a 2-over-par 74 in the first round. Tournament officials extended Dakoda the invitation after hearing of Kelly Jo's illness — and her wish that death wouldn't cheat her out of seeing this day.

Dakoda made three bogeys and only the one birdie. She struggled with her putter and finished the day nine shots behind first-round leader Cristie Kerr, who shot a 7-under 65.

All of that was completely irrelevant.

For the first time in Dakoda's golf life, winning wasn't the goal, nor the plan.

"I didn't have any expectations for this tournament, except to go out there and have a great time and look over and see my mom," said Dakoda, a winner of more than 100 tournaments and ranked among the nation's best 13-year-old players. "It did feel good shooting 74. I'm just really happy to be here."
  • Polly Leider

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