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Dowd completes dream

Teen's LPGA week ends on high note

When her family moved from a spacious house into a tiny townhome, Dakoda Dowd gave away more than 100 of her golf trophies, saying she didn't need to keep them.

She added one to her collection yesterday -- and it's not going anywhere.

Adding to what her cancer-stricken and terminally ill mother, Kelly Jo Dowd, called ''the perfect week," the 13-year-old golf prodigy and her family received a replica of the winner's trophy on the 18th green early yesterday evening after finishing her second round at the LPGA's Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open in Reunion, Fla.

Dakoda -- who shot an 82, eight shots higher than her Thursday score -- missed the cut by eight strokes.

Nobody minded, of course.

''I'm prouder today than I was yesterday that my daughter has the courage and strength to play with these LPGA professionals," Kelly Jo said. ''And I feel great right now. I feel great. My dream came true out here. I saw my girl play with these amazing women. My dream came true."

The scene shortly after Dakoda tapped in for a double bogey on the 18th was one normally reserved for champions, and Ginn tournament officials felt the Dowd family certainly qualified as such. Knowing that Kelly Jo adored the large Chihuly glass bowl that will be awarded to the winner tomorrow, a replica was made.

A scant few were in on the secret, which was kept from Kelly Jo and Dakoda -- both of whom gasped when the gift was unveiled.

''I didn't want it to be over," Dakoda said. ''And it is. And with all the prayers and everything, me and my mom and my family are going to keep living. It's definitely touched us. Our family's so much stronger now."

The touching ceremony capped Dakoda's first LPGA Tour experience.

She was invited to play after event organizers learned that Kelly Jo -- who doctors say may only have months to live -- wanted to see her daughter 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.

Dakoda was tied for 53d after the first round, beating or tying 15 women who've combined to win 33 major championships.

Lorena Ochoa rebounded from a triple bogey to shoot a 2-under 70 to finish a stroke behind Mi Hyun Kim (66) after the second round. Ochoa and Kim will tee off in the final group today with Ai Miyazato, 6 under after a 68 in the second round.

PGA -- Joe Durant played his best golf of the year with eight birdies -- four of them with a wedge in his hand -- on his way to an 8-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead over Brett Wetterich at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Wetterich closed with an 8-foot birdie on the ninth hole for a 65.

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen sputtered at the start and then steadily improved for a 3-under 69 that left him in a group of seven players at 9-under 135 that included three rookies (Charley Hoffman, Eric Axley, and Ryan Hietala) and Ian Poulter, who had never played the course until he stepped onto the first tee Thursday.

Champions -- Tom Kite got off to a fast start in his bid to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Texas for the first time, birdieing the final hole for a 4-under 68 and a share of the first-round lead in the FedEx Kinko's Classic in Lakeway.

European -- Graeme Storm of England birdied the last three holes to shoot a 5-under 67 and take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Spanish Open in San Roque, Spain. Storm is at 12 under to lead five golfers, including Robert Karlsson of Sweden, who had a hole-in-one in his course-record 9-under 63.

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