Ex-caddie surprised he was given the Ko shoulder

WELLINGTON • South African caddie Gary Matthews has criticised women's world No. 1 Lydia Ko after being fired by the New Zealander's camp after only nine events.

The ninth caddie in the golfer's short playing career, Matthews parted ways with the 19-year-old after the Lotte Championship in Hawaii last weekend, when she finished joint runner-up behind winner Cristie Kerr.

"I wish her the best, but she's gone through so many caddies, she needs to wake up on caddie-player relationships," Matthews, a former bag-man to Masters champion Sergio Garcia, told Golf Digest. "Otherwise she'll just keep doing it."

Ko, who worked with seven caddies as an amateur and rookie on the professional Tour, sacked her previous bag-man Jason Hamilton in October when in the midst of a form trough, ending a nearly two-year association that yielded 10 wins and two Major trophies.

Although hired on a trial basis, Matthews said he was surprised and puzzled by his dismissal, having thought he had earned the role full-time earlier in the season.

OMINOUS PATTERN OF EXITS

I wish her the best, but she's gone through so many caddies, she needs to wake up on caddie-player relationships.

GARY MATTHEWS, sacked caddie, who says Ko's camp does not communicate at all.

"I was like, 'This is a bit strange; I didn't think I did that bad a job'," said Matthews, who is looking to stay on the LPGA Tour with Australian Minjee Lee. "In all honesty, there is no communication in the whole camp. You never know anything or are told anything.

"The agent called me on the Monday after Palm Springs and said, 'She needed a change, we're going with somebody else, but you can caddie in Hawaii.'

"I'm like, well, never in 19 years have I been fired and I'm still working for the person.

"What was so strange for me, we worked unbelievably well in Hawaii, the communication and everything was just phenomenal."

South Korea-born Ko, whose parents are a near-constant presence on Tour, also parted ways with renowned swing coach David Leadbetter in December after a three-year association.

Leadbetter later told New Zealand media that it "wasn't easy coaching three people" and felt the golfer's parents were putting too much pressure on their daughter.

Ko, still seeking her first win this year, is looking to make a new caddie appointment before her next tournament in Texas, starting on April 27.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-caddie surprised he was given the Ko shoulder'. Print Edition | Subscribe