Lydia Ko, who parted company with coach David Leadbetter in December after three years, confirmed last week her new instructor is Gary Gilchrist, who she has been working with for about a month.
The No.1 player on the Rolex Ranking thus joins No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn as a Gilchrist student. “When I talked to the other players who were with Gary, they said he was very simple, wasn’t very mechanical,” Ko said during a media day in Auckland, New Zealand. “That was kind of the aspect I thought would be great. I tried a few lessons with him. I felt like it was really simple, and we didn’t, like, rip the swing apart, and I think that was very important.”
The change represents a reversal of sorts, as the Orlando-based Gilchrist, who also instructs No.4 Shanshan Feng, former No.1 Yani Tseng and Paula Creamer, was Michelle Wie’s coach for two years before she left in 2004 to work with Leadbetter, who remains her instructor.
The 19-year-old Ko, who makes her 2017 debut at this week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, thus enters the season with a new caddie (from Jason Hamilton to Gary Matthews, former looper for Sergio Garcia) new clubs (from Callaway to PXG) and a new instructor.
“I don’t think I’ve been that worried about the changes, because it almost takes me back to three years ago when I was a rookie,” Ko said. “That’s the similar mind-set going into this year, too. It’s an exciting time, and I feel like I’ve learned about my game, and it’s been a great off-season.”