Yes. She has the courage to want to bet­ter her­self


For some golfers change is bad. Each round, it’s same ball, same tee colour, same socks, spe­cial slice-avoid­ing cap, sen­ti­men­tal glove, lucky charm golf marker. Don’t jinx it. But if some­one shows them how to hit a drive 10 me­tres fur­ther, or to land short irons two me­tres closer to the pin, or chip it close, then change is all on. Who knows, it might win them a golf ball in the club hag­gle.

Ly­dia Ko is mak­ing con­stant changes, of the good kind. She’s search­ing for some­thing ex­tra, she’s look­ing to im­prove. Good, bet­ter, best.

Just like last year, she will start the sea­son with a new (this time un­proven) coach and cad­die. For­get the new cad­die; most player-cad­die com­bi­na­tions don’t see out a sea­son any­way. Ko is do­ing noth­ing un­usual sack­ing her cad­die.

But coach? That is a dif­fer­ent is­sue. Ted Oh is un­proven, he’s not high pro­file, his philoso­phies are not splat­tered across golf mag­a­zines and web­sites for all to see.

Mov­ing from coach to the stars David Lead­bet­ter, to coach to the stars Gary Gilchrist, to coach to no one no­table Ted Oh is po­ten­tially fraught. No golfer wants to get caught be­tween old and new philoso­phies – that is the place where doubt and frus­tra­tion is born. But for Ko, it could well be a good idea. Gilchrist coaches for­mer world No 1s Ariya Ju­tanu­garn and Yani Tseng, cur­rent world No 1 Shan­shan Feng, PGA pro­fes­sional Mor­gan Hoff­mann, and LPGA pros Paula Creamer and Moriya Ju­tanu­garn.

Great, he must be good then, right? But look at that list and add Ko, and you’ve got seven world-class play­ers all want­ing at­ten­tion from the same man.

With her propen­sity for hard work and long hours, Ko seems to be look­ing for a one-woman guy, a coach who is con­stantly on tap.

More change won’t harm Ko. She is used to it. She’s known lit­tle else since her ca­reer be­gan, all through her 14 wins on the LPGA tour.

She was world No 1 when she parted ways with Lead­bet­ter to work with Gilchrist. Now she is No 10.

Ko went win­less in 26 starts in 2017, while post­ing top-five fin­ishes in four of her last eight starts. She won five times and a ma­jor in 2015, and four times in 2016.

So, if she thinks a change of di­rec­tion is re­quired to stop her go­ing down the rank­ings, I’m with her.

Golf­ing pun­dits such as com­men­ta­tor Phil Tatau­rangi are not so sure. He fears Ko is seek­ing per­fec­tion, when in golf that is un­ob­tain­able.

He has seen top golfers send their ca­reers off the fair­ways when they couldn’t es­cape that search, when they were never happy, when they were al­ways tin­ker­ing.

While for­mer men’s world No 1 Nick Faldo over­hauled his game, fell into the golf­ing wilder­ness, then re­turned to the top, he did it by chang­ing his swing, not all those around him, Tatau­rangi says.

And yet, Ko has al­ways been more brave than fool­ish. She knows what she wants, and is coura­geously fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult path to get there. Let’s salute her for courage, rather than ques­tion her ac­tions as folly.

As Barack Obama once said: ‘‘Change will not come if we wait for some other per­son, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been wait­ing for. We are the change that we seek.’’

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