News about Lydia Ko
Ready For 2018
4 January 2018
For the first time in Lydia’s career she did not win on the LPGA Tour. While this was shocking, it was not surprising because of the many changes she made heading into last season. When Ko announced the series of changes at the end of the 2016 season, new clubs, new coach, new swing, new caddie, a mixture of confusion and excitement began to take hold. There are many reasons a player makes changes, especially early in their career, but figuring out why the (then) world number one was making these changes, after a five win season, was still slightly puzzling.
Despite the winless season, I do not see 2017 as a failure for Lydia. She finished the year with eleven top tens, third in putts per green in regulation, eighth in putting average, and ninth in scoring average. Ko’s year would be the envy of many, and probably was, and the only thing missing was the victory. Of course, that is how we measure any athlete, and especially a player with Lydia’s résumé. With all of that being said, 2018 could be Ko’s best season yet.
I watched Lydia play her final event of the year, at the CME Group Tour Championship, and she appeared comfortable and at ease. Not just with her demeanor and attitude, but with her swing as well. Ko showed some flare for the dramatic in the first round, when she nearly hit her second shot in the water behind the eighteenth hole. She proceeded to miss the difficult third shot, hitting into a bunker on the opposite side of the green. No one wanted to see her end on a negative note, especially having played great all day. Ko was at five-under par, and a bogey, if not worse, seemed inevitable. Then, that Lydia magic we’ve all become accustomed to seeing made an appearance, as she holed the bunker shot for par. Every person surrounding the final hole burst into a roar simultaneously. There is an electricity only a few on tour can summon, captivating all who are watching, and Lydia is one of them.
While she was never truly in position for victory in Naples after the first round, the positives far exceeded the negatives. Ko’s tie for 16th at the Tour Championship capped a very successful stretch to end the season where in her final eight events she never finished worse than tied for 22nd, and had two runner-ups, a tie for third, and a tie for fifth.
After the strong finish to the season, Lydia enjoyed some time off with family and friends. Visiting South Korea and Japan, Ko appeared to find the perfect way to unwind after another long year on tour.
So, while many believe the 2017 season was a disappointing one, I see it as a stepping stone toward bigger and better things to come. 2018 has the potential to be an all-time great season on the Tour, with the women’s game deeper than it has ever been. But Lydia showed us the signs that she could be stealing headlines once again in this New Year. Instead of new clubs, coaches, and struggles, the news will be of tournaments won. I for one, cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.
17 October 2017
Last month, starting in Indianapolis, Lydia began to show the game, and attitude, we’ve all come to expect.
The tournaments following the Indy Women In Tech Championship (2nd place finish) have been successful, in my eyes, and her progress is exciting to see!
The season’s final major, the Evian Championship, in France, saw Ko play some of her best golf of the year, and she came agonizingly close to her third career major championship victory. Lydia finished tied for third, one shot out of a playoff. While still not at her absolute best, she was right there with a chance to win on the last few holes of a major.
Ko then had the opportunity to host her fellow LPGA players at the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open. For the first time the LPGA was competing on New Zealand soil. Despite a few moments of sign breaking wind, and a day or two of pouring down rain, the tournament was a success. Lydia battled expectations, of fans and herself, as well as the golf course to finish in a tie for 22nd. With so many sponsor obligations, media requests, and fan outreach, I am sure she was overwhelmed. But with class and grace, Ko embraced it all.
I sometimes wonder how Lydia would perform if she only had golf to worry about. At the same time, without her selfless approach to golf, and life, we would not know her like we do today. Many top athletes in other sports simply brush off interviews, or signing autographs, but not Ko. She gives her time to help the game grow.
I’ve mentioned this before, but her attitude is so vital to her success. While there are surely times where obligations off the course are tough to handle, her mental approach brings her the focus necessary to succeed on the course.
At the KEB Hana Bank Championship Lydia finished in a tie for 19th. While a victory still alludes her to this point in the season, I am completely convinced she will break through before the season ends. I’ve seen her game improve, I’ve seen her confidence improve, and the contagious positive attitude we are used to seeing is back.
Up next for Lydia, is this weeks Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
The last few weeks of this LPGA season are going to be exciting to say the least!
Turning a Corner
12 September 2017
Lydia has spent much of the last month, and season, struggling to find any form of consistency. That may sound strange, since she had seven top ten finishes heading into the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship, Presented by Guggenheim. However, to many people, the expectation level is so high for Ko, that anything less than a victory is seen as unsuccessful.
Going into Indianapolis, Lydia’s previous three starts resulted in a missed cut, tie T-59, and another missed cut. We have never seen Ko struggle like this before, and more surprisingly, I personally, cannot remember seeing any true signs of frustration before. While remaining upbeat and positive in interviews, her on course demeanor has been different. Nothing major, but just not Lydia like.
That all changed at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I followed Lydia for many portions of her three rounds in Indy, and the things we have all become accustomed to seeing, were back.
First of all, when walking from shot to shot, her confident strides were back, along with her effervescent Lydia smile. This is something I see as very important to her success. Looking back at her career to this point, one constant has been her unparalleled mental strength, and contagious positive attitude toward golf, and life. She has also played incredible golf, at a level we’ve never seen from a teenager, but her mental game has impressed me the most.
Second of all, Ko played extremely well. Although her final round was not quite perfect, her first two rounds were nearly flawless. Lydia missed only four fairways, and three greens, in route to rounds of 65 (-7) and 64(-8). The statistic I was most interested in was her putting. In the first two rounds, she was making almost everything. Ko had 28 putts in the first round, and 26 in the second, before cooling off with 31 in the final round. Putting has always been one of Lydia’s strengths, and that directly correlated to her low scores in the first two rounds.
Ko’s season, to this point, has been one of numerous changes. The hard work on her full swing is apparent. The inconsistent play throughout the year was to be expected, in my opinion. But her short game struggles, at certain points this year, has surprised me the most. In previous years if she was not driving the ball well, or striking the ball great, her ability to hole putts carried her through. This has been missing for much of this season. However, in Indianapolis she seemed to put those pieces together, and it was so much fun to watch!
I’m interested to see if this was truly a turning point for Lydia moving forward. Only time will tell, and how she plays at this week’s final major, the Evian Championship, in France, will be a great indicator.
I saw her week in Indianapolis as a big positive, and expect to see more of the same from her to finish out this season. With a major championship, the first ever LPGA tournament in her home country of New Zealand, and the Asian swing all coming up, I would not be surprised to see a Lydia Ko win.
4 August 2017
Watching Lydia play the last several weeks I’ve seen a player simply searching. Searching for the level of play we’ve all become accustomed to watching, and the level of play she’s accustomed to playing.
She continues to show class, giving her time to the media and doing sponsor obligations. But having watched Ko play since she was an amateur, I’ve noticed something happen a little more often lately. Some slight signs of frustration on the course.
I’ve watched many Lydia Ko rounds, and seen her play in person several times. She’s so much fun to watch, and plays with a seemingly endless amount of energy and joy. With that being said, the last few weeks have been a little different.
I have seen the signs of frustration creeping in a little more than any other time I can remember. Unlike a lot of players, Lydia is not going to throw a club, or shout profanities when things are not going well. But a lot can be seen from her facial expressions and general demeanor while playing. Again, her “frustrated” look is not necessarily something we would be concerned about if she was any other player. She still maintains a positive outlook on her game and life. But there have been less smiles than what I am used to seeing. This is something I feel has been vital to her success. She has never put too much pressure on herself to play well, and she always appears to be having fun. The great play and wins are a result of her immense talent and hard work, but also her ability to enjoy each round of golf.
Ko is not playing terrible, but the results have not been great in recent weeks. She has one top 20 finish in her last five starts, and that was at the Marathon Classic. Lydia has put together a few good rounds in her last five tournaments, but has not played well in consecutive rounds. Her normal consistency has been missing, and her results are very sub-par by her standards.
With each tournament that passes without a win, a little more pressure mounts. Lydia definitely has the mental toughness to not allow that to affect her as much as it would other players. However, seeing her world ranking drop little by little, and the constant questions from the media and others about her winning drought has to creep in to her mind.
Despite these recent struggles I do believe she will turn these frustrations in to a positive. I think she is close, and the good rounds show she has the game.
I think years from now, when we look back at this time in Lydia’s career, we will see this as a learning year that propelled her to bigger and better things. Her game will be fine, and many more wins are in her future.
Back in Action
24 June 2017
Lydia returned to action after taking three weeks off to prepare for a busy summer stretch on the LPGA tour. She had a solid tournament at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she finished T-10.
In a year that has seen many changes for Lydia (swing, caddie, coach, equipment), I believe the three week break was a good decision. Giving herself some time to practice and refresh before an extremely busy summer should be beneficial. There are two Major Championships in three weeks, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Women’s U.S. Open. Ko will be looking to win the Women’s PGA a year after she lost in a playoff to Brooke Henderson. The Women’s U.S. Open is high on every player’s priority list, and I expect Lydia to play well there.
After 85 consecutive weeks as the world number one, Ko lost the top position in the Rolex Rankings to Ariya Jutanugarn. Lydia has said she does not pay much attention to the rankings, and I believe this to be true. In a year of significant changes, Lydia should focus on improving each time she tees it up. We all know she’s good enough to be the world number one. As long as she puts in the work, and gives her best effort each tournament, the rankings will take care of themselves.
Watching Lydia at the Meijer LPGA Classic
My first opportunity to watch Lydia play in person was at the Meijer LPGA Classic.
I’ve followed her career since she won for the first time on the LPGA Tour as a 15 year old amateur. Everything she’s done since then is simply incredible, and honestly difficult to fathom. 14 career wins, including 2 major championships. Astonishing.
In Grand Rapids, Ko was everything I expected and more.
I followed her for several holes on Friday and Sunday. On Friday she was paired with Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. A dynamic group who had hundreds, if not more than a thousand, fans following them throughout the day. On Sunday she was paired with Wie again, who Lydia has referred to as a big sister on tour several times in her career. There were plenty of smiles and laughs shared between the two.
While Lydia ended up in trouble more often than she would have liked, missing a few fairways while I was watching her, her scrambling ability was beyond impressive. On one hole she pulled her tee shot significantly left, into the rough and behind several trees. It appeared she did not have any options other than punching out. But she’s Lydia Ko, and she found her way out of trouble. She hit under the tree branches directly in front of her and over and around the trees 20-30 yards ahead of her. The ball landed just short of the green, bounced on to the green, and rolled to about 20 feet from the hole. While it was not necessarily THE highlight of the round, it showed her extraordinary ability to make something out of nothing.
The other big thing that is noticeable, and simply beautiful to watch, is her short game. With a wedge in her hands Lydia is magic. She’s a threat to hole out any time, and she creates an expectation that her rounds are never in jeopardy of a high score. I saw her play a course with significant elevation changes, and she was consistently hitting her wedges inside 10 feet. She makes the game look easy, even when she’s not at her best.
Lydia is as good as I thought, and better. Her play is impressive, and her on-the-course demeanor is as well. Ko keeps her emotions in check, never too high and never too low, and that has to contribute to her unparalleled consistency. Watching Lydia play exceeded my expectations, and it’s mind-blowing to think she is only 20 years old. I’m looking forward to seeing many more rounds of golf played by the World Number Two, and a return to World Number One this year would not surprise me one bit.
Year of Change Continues
10 May 2017
Lydia recently made headlines for letting another caddie go. Ko decided to split with caddie Gary Matthews after just nine tournaments together. She had her best finish of the season, a tie for second at the Lotte Championship, before making the announcement. Shortly after she announced she would be working with Pete Godfrey. Godfrey is well known for his time last year on Ariya Jutanugarn’s bag, including during Ariya’s British Open victory. He then started this season caddying for Ha Na Jang. Godfrey was named the Caddie of the Year in March, a distinction decided by his peers.
Pete Godfrey is now the 10th caddie Ko has had since she turned professional in 2013. Any time a player makes a caddie change questions are sure to arise. In Lydia’s case, the frequency in which she changes caddies really raises eyebrows. Why so many changes? I believe Lydia is not just a player, but a person, who thrives on strong relationships that make her feel comfortable. At the end of the day she is the only person that can determine who and what makes her comfortable. The player-caddie relationship is vital for the long term success of any player. Sometimes a player is so great they can overcome frequent changes, and Lydia has shown us that. However, I strongly believe for sustained success, especially at the Majors, Ko is going to need a caddie she can trust, and truly feel comfortable with.
Lydia just turned 20 last month. She has been in the spotlight for so long now, we tend to forget she is ONLY 20 years old. Although it is easy to judge Lydia for all her decisions, especially recently, it is important to remember she is still learning a lot about herself. Her likes and dislikes, what makes her comfortable and what does not, these are things she will learn with some time. Pete Godfrey is married to fellow LPGA pro, Jane Park. Park is a friend and someone Lydia looks up to, this may make the player-caddie relationship with Godfrey a little smoother. Who knows? Pete Godfrey may be the perfect fit. Regardless, Ko will find the right caddie for her at some point, and for now Godfrey is a great choice.
Some Call it a Slump
16 April 2017
Lydia Ko is going through the biggest “slump” of her career. She has gone fifteen events without a victory, her longest winning drought since she started playing on the LPGA tour. Ko had her second career missed cut at the Kia Classic in March. All of this is unfamiliar territory for the world number one.
What is wrong with Lydia Ko?
There is no one thing that can necessarily be pinpointed, but there are a number of things that have probably contributed. It is well documented the changes she has made over the last several months and at the end of last year. New equipment, new coach, and a new caddie. All of these elements combined with the responsibilities of being the number one player in the world, take a toll. It should also be noted that she is undergoing some swing changes. During this time it is difficult for any player to consistently compete at a high level. There is more time dedicated to practicing the full swing, which takes time away from the short game and putting. So far this year that seems evident, as Lydia is not putting at the level we are accustomed to seeing. According to LPGA.com, last year Ko was first in putts per round and putts per green in regulation. This season Lydia is 87th in putts per round and 55th in putts per green in regulation. One of her clear strengths has not been a strength to this point this season.
With all of this being said, Lydia has recorded three top ten’s and tied for 11th in the season’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. So, three top ten’s and a tie for 11th in six events played this season? Not that bad if you ask me. If those were the results for virtually any player other than Lydia, we would be impressed with the consistent play. But Lydia has set Tiger-like standards for which we judge her. If she is not winning, or at the very least threatening to win, we think something must be wrong with her. The truth is, Lydia has gone through a lot of changes the last several months, and a “slump” should be expected. However, she is mentally tough enough to understand the process she is going through, and I predict she will be back to winning tournaments very soon.
@lydsko Instagram 04/03/17
Lydia Ko Working With New Instructor
February 2017 – Lydia Ko officially starts working with new instructor Gary Gilchrist. Gilchrist is also the instructor of LPGA players Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Shanshan Feng, Paula Creamer and Yani Tseng. Lydia Ko Working With New Instructor, Gary Gilchrist.
Time will tell whether the change was the right move for Lydia, but my initial thoughts are that it’s a move that makes sense. Lydia won five times worldwide in 2016, all under the guidance of her former instructor, David Leadbetter. This leads to the question, why leave a partnership that has had so much success? Well, sometimes change is necessary for improvement and maybe more importantly, confidence. Lydia was in search of a coach that would be a little less mechanical. In an interview with golfchannel.com Ko said, “It’s important for me to understand more about my swing and my game, no matter who I end up working with.”
The move to Gary Gilchrist makes sense because he worked under Leadbetter and was in charge of the David Leadbetter Junior Golf Academy for nine years. Leadbetter, in many ways, was a mentor to Gilchrist and taught him a lot as a player and instructor. Gilchrist has a basic understanding of Lydia’s swing and where she is coming from. This gives Lydia the opportunity to work with an instructor who has similar philosophies to Leadbetter but will keep things simple.
Talking to other players and students of Gilchrist helped her make the decision. At a media day in New Zealand Ko said, “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 and I think that was good to see the changes we have made.”
Lydia hopes to become less reliant on coaches because she knows they can not be with her every day of the year. If Lydia was going to make a coaching change, Gilchrist makes as much sense as anybody.
Lydia Ko Changes Caddy, Coach, and Leaves Callaway Golf
A set of significant changes were announced by Lydia Ko and her management following her relatively poor end to the 2016 LPGA season.
October 2016, Lydia Ko dismissed Jason Hamilton, her caddy since 2014.
December 2016, Lydia separated from her long-time coach, David Leadbetter. According to David Leadbetter, Lydia’s parent’s were sometimes intrusive – ‘It’s not easy coaching three people.’.
Respected golf writer, Amy Rogers, covered Lydia’s explanation in her LPGA article – LYDIA KO OPENS UP ABOUT END OF YEAR CHANGES.
January 2017 – Lydia Ko changed equipment provider from Callaway to Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG) – Lydia Ko leaves Callaway, signs equipment deal with PXG.
About Lydia Ko
Lydia Ko (turning 20 in April 2017) is a Korean-born New Zealand professional golfer who became the No. 1 ranked woman professional golfer on 2 February 2015 at 17 years 9 months 8 days of age, making her the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. She is the current No. 1 golfer.* Source: Wikipedia.
Lydia Ko in 2016 (Source: LPGA)
24 events, 24 cuts made, $2,493,059 (2nd in the money list)
Four victories including her second major championship at the ANA Inspiration with 10 additional top-10 finishes including three runner-ups.
A lifelong golfer and fan, Ben Harpring, from Columbus, Indiana is currently finishing up his Business degree at Indiana University – Purdue University Columbus.
Ben hopes to qualify for the Indiana Amateur this year.
“I enjoy writing about things I’m passionate about, and I hope I can help grow the greatest game in the world!”