Lydia Ko splits with only coach she has ever had
This weekend was a big one for teen star Lydia Ko – it began with a second wave of rumors, as yet officially unconfirmed, that she has signed an endorsement deal with Callaway Golf. And it ended with the shocking news that she is splitting with the only coach she's ever had.
Ko told Television New Zealand on Monday that she was sad to have ended her partnership with Guy Wilson, whom she called a great coach and friend. But she said she and her family had decided it would be impossible to continue the relationship because she will be based in the United States and he in New Zealand.
''It doesn't really work, him being here and him coming on the weeks that I'm not playing a tournament means I'll only see him like 10 times a year, and to me that kind of situation didn't work out,'' Ko said.
Ko, 16, has worked with Wilson ever since she took up golf at age 5. He issued a statement saying he was ''incredibly disappointed'' their partnership was over.
Ko dominated the global amateur game in her early teens, and won five professional tournaments – four as an amateur, followed by her first victory as a pro at the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan just a few weeks ago – under his tutelage.
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''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,'' said Wilson, who added that it had ''been an honor to help develop Lydia into the No. 4 golfer in the world.''
Michael Yim, her agent at IMG, said Monday that Ko worked with various teachers at the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida before going to Taiwan for the Swinging Skirts tournament. Kim said Ko plans to meet with other teachers before deciding on a full-time coach.
Confirmation of her signing with Callaway is expected soon. Ko recently spent some time at Callaway's world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., where she met one of her idols, Callaway ambassador Phil Mickelson. Also recently, Ko has signed a management agreement with IMG Golf, and her family has begun looking into a home base in the United States as she prepares to play the LPGA Tour in 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.