She didn't win the tournament. She didn't even make the cut. She held the trophy on the 18th green at the Reunion Resort & Club simply because she played.
The 13-year-old golf prodigy was invited to Reunion, Florida after event organizers learned that her mother Kelly Jo – who doctors say may only have months to live – wanted to see Dakoda play against the pros once in her lifetime. So Ginn organizers offered a sponsor's exemption, which eventually became a special exemption through the LPGA.
"This is one of the best weeks of my life," Kelly Jo Dowd, said. "It's such a warm feeling. It's almost like I'm walking and it's not really happening. I feel like a kid at Christmastime."
Tournament officials – knowing that Kelly Jo adored the large Chihuly glass bowl that'll be awarded to the winner on Sunday – made a replica and awarded it to the family after Dakoda finished playing on Friday.
Dakoda's gallery was the second-largest on the course Friday, an estimated 300 people. Tournament officials said only the superstar-laden trio of Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer had more people following their round.
"It's crazy. Absolutely crazy," said Mike Dowd, Dakoda's father. "I think this is great for Dakoda. She does love it. Makes it a lot more fun for her, unlike all those days of practicing with no one around."
Dowd shot a 74 in the first round. She was tied for 53rd after the first round, beating or tying 15 women who've combined to win 33 major championships.
Dakoda tapped in for a double bogey on the 18th hole for an 82 on Friday. She missed the final-round cut by 8 strokes.
"She made mama's cut today," Kelly Jo said.