WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Women’s world number one Lydia Ko confirmed Gary Gilchrist as her new coach on Wednesday and said the South African had already “ripped apart” her swing ahead of her season debut in Australia next week.
New Zealander Ko said she had been working with Gilchrist for about a month, having parted ways with British swing guru David Leadbetter in December after a three-year association.
Gilchrist is already working with two of Ko’s main rivals in Thai world number two Ariya Jutanugarn and Chinese world number four Shanshan Feng.
“When I talked to the other players that were with Gary, they told me he was very simple and wasn’t very mechanical,” the 19-year-old told local media in Auckland.
”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.
“I think if you looked at the swing, It might not look so different, but to me, it feels a little different. It kind of cleared up my mind and that’s very important going forward.”
Twice major champion Ko heads to next week’s Australian Open in Adelaide after having also changed her caddie and clubs after a disappointing finish to her 2016 season, the first lean period of her stellar career.
She fired former caddie Jason Hamilton in October and hired South African Gary Matthews, former bag-man to Sergio Garcia.
She parted ways with Callaway after signing a multi-million dollar deal with equipment maker PXG.
Ko has not tasted victory since the Marathon Classic in July and finished outside the top 40 in three of her last six LPGA starts.
“I don’t think I’ve been very worried about the changes because it almost takes me back to three years ago when I was a rookie,” she said.
“When you’re a rookie coming on tour, everything is new and exciting, so that’s a similar mindset coming into this year too.”
Ko added that she had no problem sharing Gilchrist’s expertise with her tour rivals.
“Just because we’re at that position in our rankings doesn’t mean (Jutanugarn) hates me and I hate her. She’s one of the sweetest players on tour,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a rivalry thing, but it gives me confidence he’s a great coach.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Ken Ferris/Greg Stutchbury