New Zealand’s Lydia Ko has split with long-time coach Guy Wilson, who started working with the golfing prodigy as a five-year-old novice and helped her become the world’s No 4 11 years later.
Ko was given the green light in October to become a full member of the LPGA Tour from the start of the 2014 season after the governing body waived the 18-year-old age limit clause. Ko, who was born in South Korea, has won five professional titles – four as an amateur – and became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour when she captured last year’s Canadian Open at the age of 15.
She signed up with management company IMG earlier this month.
In statement to Fairfax media, Wilson said he was “incredibly disappointed” that their partnership had come to an end. “We’ve spent a lot of time together and during that time I’ve become very close to Lydia and her family. While I’m incredibly disappointed that our 11-year partnership is over, I respect Lydia and her team’s decision,” Wilson said.
“When I first met her the golf clubs were taller than she was and she didn’t know the first thing about a driver or a putter but now she has one of the most envied swings in the women’s golf world.”
Media reports suggested Ko would now be coached by David Leadbetter in the United States.
When Wilson began coaching Ko, they were restricted by language difficulties as she had not yet been immersed in New Zealand schooling.
Ko had up to four lessons a week with Wilson, working from 50 metres from the green because anything else would have been too daunting. He was amazed by the youngster’s focus, motivation and ability.