Date: February 09, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Ko rings changes, hires a new coach


World No. 1 Lydia Ko will start her 2017 season at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide next week with a new coach.

New Zealander Ko, who parted ways with David Leadbetter late last year after a string of what were poor results by her own high standards, has hired South African swing guru Gary Gilchrist.

Interestingly, Gilchrist is also working with Thai superstar Ariya Jutanugarn, the world No. 2 and the woman who presents the strongest threat to the Kiwi's top-ranking.

Jutanugarn, who will go head-to-head with Ko at Royal Adelaide from next Thursday, won five LPGA Tour events last year including three in succession at one point, and her first major title, the Women's British Open.

The battle between the explosive Thai player and the precision-loving Ko is set to be a highlight as the LPGA Tour caravan comes to Australia, in a city which embraced the Open so warmly in 2016 at The Grange.

Ko won the Open at Royal Melbourne in 2015 and was runner-up in Adelaide last year to white-hot Japanese player Haru Nomura. She has been a regular at the Australian Open since finishing 12th as a 13-year-old amateur at Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne in 2011.

Ko told media that Gilchrist had already "ripped apart'' her swing, but that they would endeavour to keep it simple.

 “When I talked to the other players that were with Gary, they told me he was very simple and wasn’t very mechanical,” she said. “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.''

Gilchrist is earning quite a reputation in the game; he is also working with the world No. 4, China's Shanshan Feng.

As for Ko, she is making quite a few changes for one who is at the top of the game, engaging a new caddie (Gary Matthews) after parting with Australian Jason Hamilton late last year, and new equipment.