Lydia Ko, who made major moves near the end of last season, has confirmed her new coach in South African Gary Gilchrist.
Speaking to local media for a promotional event for September’s New Zealand Women’s Open, Ko said she has been working with Gilchrist for the past month. She split with David Leadbetter in December.
Despite the new instructor, the LPGA’s top-ranked player says she hasn’t completely revamped her swing.
“When I talked to other players that were with Gary they said he was very simple and wasn’t very mechanical, and that was the kind of aspect I thought that would be great,” Ko said. “I tried a few lessons with him and felt like it was very simple and wouldn’t rip the swing apart, and I think that was really important.”
Gilchrist, a GOLF Top 100 Teacher, also works with second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn and fourth-ranked Shanshan Feng. He previously coached Michelle Wie, among others.
The 19-year-old Ko won 15 times under Leadbetter. Her split with him came shortly after she parted ways with caddie Jason Hamilton. South African Gary Matthews is now on her bag.
After he and Ko stopped working together, Leadbetter told Golf Digest that Ko’s parents are heavily involved in her career.
“They tell her when to go to bed, what to eat, what to wear, when to practice and what to practice,” he said. “And they expect her to win every tournament. They are good people, who love their daughter and want the very best for her … but they are naive about golf. And at some point, they’ve got to let the bird fly from the nest. I would often think, ‘It’s not easy coaching three people.'”
Ko begins her season at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open Feb. 16-19.
“I don’t think I have been very worried about the changes because it almost takes me back to three years ago when I was a rookie, and when you are a rookie coming on tour everything is new and you are excited,” Ko said. “And that’s kind of a similar mindset going into this year, too. It’s exciting times.”