Lydia Ko’s “to-do” list for 2017 just got a little longer. Already searching for a new caddie after splitting with Brian Hamilton in October, the world’s top-ranked female golfer now will also be on the look out for a new swing coach after deciding to part ways with David Leadbetter after three years working with the noted instructor.
Since Ko began working with Leadbetter, shortly after she turned pro in the fall of 2013, the 19-year-old the New Zealand prodigy won 12 LPGA titles and an Olympic silver medal, was the tour’s youngest rookie of the year in 2014 and its youngest player of the year in 2015. In the first half of 2016, she won three times, including her second major championship at the ANA Inspiration in April, and appeared on her way to a second straight POY season.
But after taking the title at the Marathon Classic in July, her game began to slip as she managed just one top-five finish in her final nine LPGA starts. At the same time, Ariya Jutanugarn won two titles, giving her five on the year, and closed the season with eight top-10 finishes in her final 10 starts to take top player honors.
Leadbetter confirmed the news on Wednesday.
Leadbetter took the high road in a statement about the split. “Lydia is not only an exceptional player, but also an exceptional person,” he said. “She is a perfect role model for any young golfer to follow on how to conduct oneself on the golf course, interact with the public and give back to the game.”
While a four-win season is hardly anything to complain about, statistically there were some concerns as Jaime Diaz pointed out in a recent Golf World story. Ko lost distance and accuracy in 2016. She dropped to 126th on the tour with an average of 246.73 yards, after averaging 250.39 to rank 60th in 2015. She also went from second on tour in greens in regulation in 2015 to 32nd in 2016.