Ko has no re­grets leav­ing in­struc­tor Lead­bet­ter

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Ly­dia Ko de­fended the role her par­ents have played in her ca­reer but says she can now make her own de­ci­sions, in­clud­ing her choice to split with in­struc­tor David Lead­bet­ter.

The New Zealand teenager has been tak­ing care of busi­ness on the golf course-win­ning 12 times on the LPGA Tour be­fore the age of 19. Off it, she is learn­ing how to find her own voice and make ma­jor de­ci­sions.

And that in­cludes the re­cent move to split with hit­ting in­struc­tors Lead­bet­ter and Sean Ho­gan. “Of course I dis­cussed my de­ci­sion with my par­ents,” the world num­ber one Ko told the LPGA.com web­site on Fri­day. “They gave their opin­ions, too. But at the end of the day I made the fi­nal de­ci­sion to change.

“My par­ents are a big part of my golf­ing ca­reer and I know I wouldn’t be here with­out them.” But Ko, and es­pe­cially her par­ents, came un­der fire last week for fir­ing in­struc­tors Lead­bet­ter and Ho­gan who she had been with for three years.

Fol­low­ing the sep­a­ra­tion, Lead­bet­ter called out her par­ents for in­ter­fer­ing with their daugh­ter’s de­vel­op­ment.

“It’s been dif­fi­cult the last few months, when she’s hear­ing more than one voice,” Lead­bet­ter told GolfChan­nel.com. Speak­ing pub­licly for the first time since the breakup, the 19year old from Auck­land ad­mit­ted she’s some­times too de­pen­dent on her par­ents. “I think I have, yes, some­times been too re­liant on my par­ents be­cause I am so used to be­ing with them,” Ko told LPGA.com. “But I think I need to learn more about tak­ing own­er­ship and mak­ing my own de­ci­sions.”

Ko said she would have never been able to have the suc­cess she’s en­joyed at such a young age with­out her par­ents’ sup­port. “I am very close with my par­ents. But it would be a lie to say that we have never had an ar­gu­ment or I’ve never been up­set be­cause of them.

“But at the end of the day, even though I may not know it at the time, they are wish­ing the very best for me and it’s be­cause they care and love me.”

KO STRIVES FOR NEW HEIGHTS

When it comes to Ko’s de­vel­op­ment you can’t ar­gue with suc­cess. Not only has she won two ma­jor cham­pi­onships, but she is also the youngest player to be ranked No. 1, and the youngest wo­man to ever win a ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

Ko’s ca­reer has taken a dif­fer­ent track than another of Lead­bet­ter’s fa­mous clients, Michelle Wie. Wie, 27, and Lead­bet­ter have been to­gether 14 years and de­spite early pre­dic­tions of ma­jor wins and then a fleet­ing mo­ment with the men’s tour, Wie has un­der­achieved. It took her four years on the LPGA Tour to win her first ever 18-hole ti­tle and a decade to claim her first ma­jor.

Ko, who won four times in 2016 and a sil­ver medal for New Zealand at the Sum­mer Olympics, de­cided she wasn’t go­ing to rest on her lau­rels.

In October, she split with her cad­die Ja­son Hamil­ton and is also re­port­edly mak­ing an equip­ment change by switch­ing from one club man­u­fac­turer to another. The sep­a­ra­tion with Lead­bet­ter is just another move in an off sea­son of change.

“They say when it’s work­ing why change?” Ko told the web­site. “Even though I have made quite a few changes the past few months, I guess I didn’t re­al­ize un­til peo­ple started point­ing it out to me. But I don’t re­gret mak­ing them.”

Ko says this is the start of a new be­gin­ning and she is look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of another Tour sea­son.

“I think play­ing my first tour­na­ment of the 2017 sea­son I will get a whole new feel­ing, just like play­ing in the Ba­hamas in my first event as a rookie,” said Ko. “My big­gest goal when play­ing is to en­joy and have fun. Hope­fully these changes will give me more con­fi­dence.”

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