New Zealand world No 1 golfer Lydia Ko has parted ways with coach David Leadbetter.
Leadbetter commented on the split in his blog, saying the decision was just business.
“These things happen in the world of coaching, whether it’s Jurgen Klinsmann with the US National Soccer Team or Novak Djokovic who just separated from his coach Boris Becker this week. This turnover is all part of the coaching business,” Leadbetter said.
He wished Ko the best in the future, with one last piece of advice.
“We wish Lydia the very best for the future and know that, going forward, if she is able to withstand the many outside pressures associated with being number one in the world, and if her team keep their expectations realistic, then she can go on to even bigger and better things.”
The split continues a major overhaul by the 19-year-old following a disappointing end to the year.
Ko dumped caddie Jason Hamilton in October and has made adjustments to her swing, although she denied making any drastic changes. She is also reportedly on the verge of changing clubs from Callaway to PXG.
Ko said the relationship with Hamilton ended on good terms saying her decision was just about change.
“But you know, I think sometimes change is a good thing, and you know, he’s working with another great player, Ha Na Jang, who I think has won three times this year. So, all the best to that team, too.”
Ko linked up with Leaderbetter, the American-based British instructor who has worked with multiple major winners such as Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els, at the end of 2013.
The pair enjoyed stunning success together, with Ko becoming the youngest ever World No 1 (male or female) and amassing close to US$7.5 million (NZ$10.4m) in prize money, winning 12 LPGA titles, including two majors, an Olympic silver medal and achieving a host of other records.
However, she stumbled to the finish line in 2016 as the long season took its toll, losing out on all the major season-long awards after a miserable final two months by her high standards.
While she still holds an iron-clad grip on the top of the world rankings, thanks to her form over the past two years, the chasing pack of young golfers has closed the gap.
Questions over her continued association with Leadbetter’s team was raised last month following an Instagram post by Ko, in which she thanked her raft of sponsors and family but not her coaches.
Leadbetter, though, remains proud of everything he was able to achieve with the New Zealander.
“Our team, including Sean Hogan, Director of Instruction at The Leadbetter Academies, plus other members of Lydia’s support team who have helped guide her, will walk away knowing that we have helped a great talent reach the highest pinnacle,” he said.
“We are proud of the part we have played in supporting her success. She has created a record that will be incredibly hard to beat!”