Golf: Ko swings to beat of her new coach

Lydia Ko of New Zealand teeing off during the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand teeing off during the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament.PHOTO: AFP

New Zealander happy to share Gilchrist with her top-ranked rivals as she welcomes changes

WELLINGTON • World No. 1 Lydia Ko confirmed Gary Gilchrist as her new coach yesterday and said the South African had already "ripped apart" her swing ahead of her season debut in Australia next week.

New Zealander Ko said she had been working with Gilchrist for about a month, having parted ways with British swing guru David Leadbetter in December after a three-year association.

Gilchrist is already working with two of Ko's main rivals in Thai world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and Chinese world No. 4 Feng Shanshan.

"When I talked to the other players that were with Gary, they told me he was very simple and wasn't very mechanical," the 19-year-old told local media in Auckland.

"That was the aspect I thought would be great. I tried a few lessons with him and we ripped the swing apart. I think that was really important and it's been good to see the changes we've made.

"I think if you looked at the swing, it might not look so different, but to me, it feels a little different. It kind of cleared up my mind and that's very important going forward."

The two-time Major champion heads to next week's Australian Open in Adelaide before competing at the Feb 23-26 Honda LPGA Thailand.

  • TEAM LYDIA KO'S MAJOR SHAKE-UP

  • 1 CADDIE

    THEN: Jason Hamilton, who was with Lydia Ko for two years, was fired in October.

    NOW: Gary Matthews, who used to work for Spain's Sergio Garcia.


    2 SPONSOR

    THEN: Callaway, the golf club pioneer, since January 2014 (just before turning pro).

    NOW: From this year, it will be PXG, the equipment maker founded in September 2014 by American businessman, philanthropist and golf nut Bob Parsons.


    3 COACH

    THEN: Parted with David Leadbetter, the British swing guru, after three years in December.

    NOW: Gary Gilchrist, who also works with world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 4 Feng Shanshan. 

She will then headline the March 2-5 HSBC Women's Champions at Sentosa Golf Club. Her best finish in Singapore was second in 2015.

Gilchrist told Golfchannel.com what fans can expect to see from Ko's revamped swing.

"We've been trying to get the club a little more in front of her and get her to load into her right side and then turn through into her left side," he said.

Ko also changed her caddie and clubs after a disappointing finish to last season, the first lean period of her stellar career.

She fired former caddie Jason Hamilton in October and hired South African Gary Matthews, former bag-man to Spain's Sergio Garcia. The New Zealander then parted ways with Callaway, signing a multi-million dollar deal with equipment maker PXG.

She has not tasted victory since the Marathon Classic in July and finished outside the top 40 in three of her last six LPGA starts.

"I don't think I've been very worried about the changes because it almost takes me back to three years ago when I was a rookie," she said.

"When you're a rookie coming on Tour, everything is new and exciting, so that's a similar mindset coming into this year too."

She added that she had no problem sharing Gilchrist's expertise with her Tour rivals.

"Just because we're at that position in our rankings doesn't mean (Ariya) hates me and I hate her. She's one of the sweetest players on Tour," she said.

"I don't think it's necessarily a rivalry thing, but it gives me confidence he's a great coach."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Ko swings to beat of her new coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe