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How Lydia Ko recovered from her long winless slump And managed to regain her world-beating form

How Lydia Ko

At the conclusion of 2022, Ko made two key adjustments. First she split with her swing coach, Sean Foley, citing “logistical reasons.” Then she gave her caddie, Derek Kistler, a pink slip as well. The seismic shift in the makeup of her team was a curious move — and the results since have been uneven.



She began her year with a victory at the Saudi Ladies International, but she’s finished outside the top 30 in two of three LPGA starts. Her strokes-gained stats have dropped off since her peak. And at the Chevron Championship, she’s in danger of missing the cut at a major for just the third time in her career, and for the first time since 2019. With darkness suspending play on Friday in Texas, Ko sits two shots outside the cut line.



It’s too early to know for sure, but her uneven start at the Chevron raises big-picture questions. Should we be concerned? Has Ko lost her edge? Have the bevy of changes been detrimental? The answer is unclear, and it depends on how you measure success. If you measure it in birdies and bogeys, then it’s fair to question her decisions and how they’ve impacted her play. But if you take a step back and consider the effects on Ko the person and not just Ko the player, you may start to wonder if you’re even asking the right questions.



Consider this quote from Ko earlier this year: “I think especially ever since meeting my husband, I feel like golf, yes, it is work, and when I do it want to put in my 100%. While I am playing I want to play the best golf I can. But I’ve been able to embrace it and take in the good and bad and just like make everything and the results be like a bonus rather than me trying to force something out of it. I feel very grateful about the things that have happened in my life on and off the golf course, and that’s just a good place to be able to compete as well.”



Some of that positivity could be a remnant of her time with Foley. The GOLF Top 100 Teacher was a mental coach as much as a swing coach, and their work on the mind was as important as the work on the body. But it could also be a sign of a new chapter in Ko’s career — one that, despite Ko’s youth, may be entering its final act.



Although Ko is just 25 years old, she is a chiseled veteran in the pro golf world. She’s over a decade removed from her first win and has seen the peaks and valleys of the pro game in the time since. Summiting that mountain once is tough enough, but to be expected to do it again and again is a task that few players are up for. Ko has long stated her intentions to retire when she turns 30, but with her on the brink of the LPGA Hall of Fame, she’s also hinted that could come earlier.

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