On Monday 16-year-old phenom Lydia Ko announced she had sacked her swing coach, Guy Wilson, of 11 years because she said he couldn’t spend enough time with her while she plays as a touring professional.
Ko, the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history, was coached by Wilson since she was five. Naturally, he said he was “incredibly disappointed” by the decision, which came two weeks after she signed with management giant IMG.
Ko has won worldwide five times, including twice on the LPGA and most recently, she secured a victory at the Swinging Skirts event in Taiwan in her second professional start. But apparently now, two months into her pro career, she needs a new coach. She said it’s not for technical reasons with her swing, but because Wilson won’t be able to heed her enough attention on Tour.
“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 (United) States,” she told One News.
Ko added that the two will remain close. (Yeah, right.)
“It’s obviously sad to stop with Guy, because he’s been a great coach and a great friend as well. 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 get that she has to make the best decisions for her career and I know it’s a complicated set of circumstances — especially since she’s moving to a U.S. base while competing on the LPGA — because you want your coach to be accessible to you at your convenience, but to put it simply, that sucks for Wilson. He got royally [use your favorite four-letter word]-ed.
Fellow Kiwi and infamous loudmouth Stevie Williams, who caddies for world no. 2 Adam Scott, chimed in on the situation and told Radio New Zealand, “I think it’s pretty unethical, myself, what occurred.”
Well, personally, I think it’s kind of messed up, but I’m not one to go around deciding what’s considered “unethical,” per se.
Ko will now start working with David Leadbetter, who also coaches Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen. Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com that he understood the sensitivities regarding the move.
“We were a little reluctant,” Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com. “We were very aware of the relationship she had with her coach, and we treaded lightly, but they approached us. When somebody of that ilk asks, you don’t turn them down.”
New Zealanders are worried that the change signals more than simply switching coaches, rather a move away from New Zealand Golf, and a fear that she will become too Americanized. (This is a common thing, so I’m told.)
Leadbetter and his team don’t plan on “re-inventing” Ko’s swing. Leadbetter and Sean Hogan worked with Ko last month for three days in Orlando, according to GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell:
“We listened to her, and one area of concern she had was that under pressure, sometimes she would hit an odd hook, where she had the club face shut,” Leadbetter said.
Leadbetter said he believes Ko has no weaknesses.
“This isn’t about re-inventing her swing,” Leadbetter said. “It’s about guiding, keeping her on track.”
Leadbetter, who has had many famous students, is fully aware of the scrutiny and potential for negative backlash if Ko’s career suddenly heads toward a downward spiral after the coaching switch.
“If she plays well, it will be because she’s a great player,” Leadbetter said. “If she doesn’t, we will be the bad guys.”
Well, it’s usually the caddie’s fault first, then the coach goes next.
Ko’s previous Twitter account has also been deleted. Weird that this is all happening at once, no? It’s like some corporate suits are coming in and cleaning house! Oh, wait.
(Getty/AFP, Sam Greenwood)