World no. 1 Lydia Ko has made some sweeping changes over the off-season, but will the overhaul be a precursor to even greater things for the LPGA star.


World no. 1 Lydia Ko has made some sweeping changes over the off-season, but will the overhaul be a precursor to even greater things for the LPGA star.

Why change a winning formula is an idiom to which most of us tend to adhere.

When you won your first professional event at the age of fifteen, earned two major championships, and retained the World No. 1 spot for over two seasons however, all before exiting your teens, it appears that expressions designed for mere mortals don’t really apply.

Thus, when golfing sensation Lydia Ko gets her season underway in Australia next month, she will not only be teeing up with a new equipment manufacturer, but will also have a fresh caddie and coach by her side.

The move seems a risky one, perilous perhaps, but with every decision made by the precocious youngster you can’t help having a feeling that it will turn to gold.

The overhaul began in October when, with just two events left on the LPGA calendar, and with the Race to the CME title still in the balance, Ko made the unlikely move to fire her long-term caddie Jason Hamilton.

Indicators that not all was well in the New Zealander’s camp however, had started to appear in the weeks leading up to the decision, when the youngster experienced her first real drop in form since bursting onto the scene four years ago, and with Ricoh Women’s British Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn eventually usurping her to win the LPGA Player of the Year crown, more changes were in hindsight inevitable.

Next in the firing line would be renowned swing instructors David Leadbetter and Sean Hogan.


Although on the surface the coach-player relationship appeared set for the long-haul, with the pair overseeing Ko’s many successes since turning professional, on closer inspection its dynamics had always been precarious. With Leadbetter often unable to attend tournaments, Ko’s father would step into take the reins in his absence, a situation which placed increasing strain on Ko during the latter half of this season as her father urged her to flatten her backswing and move away from the swing she had drilled under Leadbetter’s tutelage.

When the sacking was announced Ko was quick to place responsibility for the split down to her desire for a change, although in subsequent interviews Leadbetter would put the decision firmly at the door of Ko’s parents, who he blamed not only for the split but also for mismanaging the World No. 1’s career.

While what happens behind closed doors is a matter for mere speculation, it is easy to forget with all that Ko has achieved that she is still in that delicate phase between childhood and adulthood that most of us are lucky enough to experience without the world’s eyes upon us. Indeed, for the recent criticism that Ko has received, it must be remembered that she has dealt with her early fame and success with exceptional maturity.

With Ko also announcing that she will be teeing it up for the next three seasons with PXG, the company founded only eighteen months ago by GoDaddy billionaire Bob Parsons, and with a new fashion range in the pipeline, it’s almost impossible to predict what the year ahead holds for the Olympic silver medallist.

One thing you can count on however is that Lydia Ko will continue to surprise, entertain, and, in all probability, win.

Image- Getty Images

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