MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Women’s world number one Lydia Ko has never been more excited to kick off her LPGA season after changing her caddy, coach and clubs as she seeks her way back to the winner’s circle.
The 19-year-old New Zealander headlines the Australian Open in Adelaide this week, where she will hope to grab her first tournament win in seven months following a barren second half of 2016, her first mini-slump of a stellar career.
She has been working with new coach South African Gary Gilchrist on her swing for about a month since parting ways with David Leadbetter last year.
New caddie Gary Matthews, former bag-man to Sergio Garcia, will carry her new set of PXG clubs after she signed a multi-million dollar deal with the equipment maker to part ways with Callaway.
“Even though there has been a lot of changes, I don’t think I have ever been this excited to come off a break in December and get back into training and into preparing for the season,” Ko told reporters at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club on Wednesday.
Twice major champion Ko has not tasted victory since the Marathon Classic in July and finished outside the top 40 in three of her last six LPGA starts.
She has held the world number one ranking for 69 consecutive weeks, however, and said she never felt pressure from the chasing pack to hold onto top spot.
“I try and not think of it as ‘hey, everyone is trying to chase me’,” Ko, who won the 2015 tournament and was runner-up last year, added.
“When we’re out there, we’re not thinking about what ranked player she is to me, or what I am.
“That is important to not get carried away about the awards, the rankings. Because at the end of the day, we’re all golfers trying to make as many birdies as we can and hopefully hold the trophy at the end of that week.
“That is the mindset I have been trying to take. I feel more self-pressure rather than pressure from others.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O’Brien)