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Lydia Ko sad to split with coach

Published: 9:27AM Monday December 23, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

New Zealand golfing sensation Lydia Ko says the increasing amount of time spent playing overseas was behind the split with her New Zealand-based Kiwi coach Guy Wilson.

The 16-year-old, who turned pro at the end of this year, has agreed to be coached by Sean Hogan at David Leadbetter's Academy in the United States.

With Wilson remaining in New Zealand and unable to join her throughout the 2014 LPGA Tour, the decision was a logical one for Ko.

"I'm going to be away from home and I'm not a player that likes to (not) have my coach out at tournaments, so it doesn't really work, him being here and him coming on the weeks that I'm not playing a tournament," Ko told ONE Sport at the Gulf Habour Country Club today.

"That means I'd only see him like 10 times a year and to me that kind of situation didn't work out so that's why I thought it might be better to have a coach based somewhere in the States."

Great coach and friend

Ko acknowledged her sadness at having parted ways with Wilson, her coach of 11-years, but is thankful the pair remain friends.

"It's obviously sad to stop with Guy, because he's been a great coach and a great friend as well," she said.

"But it's just important to know that we still are good friends, which is quite good because sometimes it might not end well in both ways. I'm just lucky that we can still be friends."

Wilson confirmed the split to ONE News this morning.

"It's been an honour to help develop Lydia into the number four golfer in the world," he said in a statement.

"When I first met her the golf clubs were taller than she was and she didn't know the first thing about a driver or a putter but now she has one of the most envied swings in the women's golf world."

During their time together Ko became the world number one amateur for three consecutive years, and rose as high as number four in the world golf rankings.

She won five professional titles while under Wilson's guidance.

"Lydia's consistent and outstanding performance is the ultimate payback for any coach and it has been truly wonderful working with someone with her talent, dedication and focus," Wilson said.

"I wish Lydia all the best and will watch proudly as she embarks on what I'm sure will be a hugely successful professional golfing career."

Ko insists she is still likely to talk to her former mentor from time to time and admits he knows her game almost better than anyone.

"Just because we're not coach-student thing anymore doesn't mean we're not friends and we still talk which is good," she said.

"He knows my game very well, I guess. My mum knows it the best, I think, but he's up there. We'll keep in touch."

No big changes

Ko says she is excited about linking up with Hogan but is adamant there will be no huge changes to her game or technique.

"Yeah, it's fun. It's going to be a huge change. Swing-wise obviously not every coach has the same swing technique but even my parents and I said we don't want huge changes, just little changes, that if someone else saw my swing they wouldn't know that anything's changed.

"Golf isn't really all about having the perfect swing, it's about getting out there and scoring well as well."

She remains undaunted by stories about players falling on hard times after changing coaches and insists such speculation does not apply to her situation with Wilson.

"Not really. I've heard those rumours and Tweets where people say lots of people have left their coaches after they've succeeded and stuff, but to me it's not like I left him because he was a bad coach.

"It was because that situation, we knew there was going to be a problem. I know it's a change but fingers crossed that nothing bad happens."  

Ko will rarely be sighted in New Zealand next year, with a move to the States making it easier to travel around the globe.

"Playing on the LPGA Tour it's going to be hard coming back home. Obviously it's so far to get from here to anywhere apart from Australia. I'll be in the States more than here in New Zealand but I'll be back around September or November."

Ko recently signed a deal with IMG to be her management after turning pro in October.