Date: February 12, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Ko coming to grips with fame

Lydia Ko still cannot drive a car yet, but she is ranked fourth in the world at golf, and the New Zealand phenomenon is getting a quick education in the pitfalls of fame. A decision to seek an American coach several months ago, setting aside her mentor of 12 years, Guy Wilson, drew worldwide headlines. As she prepared for a shot at the ISPS Handa Women&aposs Australian Open, the 16-year-old was still explaining the decision to hire Sean Hogan from the Leadbetter Academy in Florida. “Obviously it was hard splitting with Guy,&apos&apos she said today. “There was a lot of media-related stuff on it, which I didn&apost even know that it would make headlines. It was a bit of a shock that it was such big news. I&aposve been liking what I&aposve been doing with Sean and David Leadbetter has been seeing my swing as well. It&aposs been working good so far.&apos&apos Ko&aposs decision was based purely on geography. She has moved to Orlando in Florida, and has ready access to Hogan, who is on instruction not to change too much (a decision that will send waves of relief around the golfing world). She said it was about “doing the best thing for me in my circumstances&apos&apos, since she is living mostly in the US. “New Zealand is way too far to come back and see him (Wilson) in that week off. I don&apost like my coach being there at a tournament so bringing him over at a tournament, that wasn&apost what I like to do. Having him over for two or three days in the off week didn&apost work out. In the off week you want to rest and you want to chill out as well. I thought it would be a good idea to find a coach based in the states.&apos&apos Ko will be one of the favorites at Victoria in the Open this week, and she knows the track, having played an Australian Amateur here in the past. Aside from the new coach she also has new Callaway clubs, and has signed a management deal with IMG. “The club feels great in my hands, and the swing part, we&aposre not making huge changes. It&aposs not like I&aposve got a whole new swing. It&aposs little things.&apos&apos Already a winner on the LPGA Tour as an amateur, she made her debut as a professional in the Bahamas a few weeks ago and contended. She has her mother Tina Hyon here this week, as well as her Australian-based auntie, Insook Hyon, who inspired her to play golf. It was on a family holiday to Sydney almost 10 years ago that the golf-playing aunty gave her some cut-down clubs. As for the driving, she is old enough to take control of a car in the US, but she has some hurdles to jump, in particular her mother&aposs reluctance. “I want to drive but I don&apost think she&aposll let me. I&aposve driven a golf kart before but that didn&apost go well. I think the roads are a little wider in the states as well, that&aposll give me a little more room for mistakes.&apos&apos