Golf: New Zealand teen star Lydia Ko sacks coach

WELLINGTON- Teen sensation Lydia Ko said Monday she had sacked coach Guy Wilson after 11 years together because he could not devote enough time to her career on the professional tour.

Wilson, who has coached the world number four since she was just five years old, said he was “incredibly disappointed” at the split, which comes less than two weeks after Ko signed with management giant IMG.

Ko, 16, said she remained friends with Wilson but her long-time coach had commitments in New Zealand that would limit his chances to travel on tour with her next year following her decision to turn pro.

“That means I’d only see him like 10 times a year and to me that kind of situation didn’t work out, so that’s why I thought it might be better to have a coach based somewhere in the (United) States,” she told One News.

Wilson said he wished her the best in “what I’m sure will be a hugely successful golfing career”.

“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 of the women’s golf world,” he said in a statement.

He added: “While I’m incredibly disappointed that our 11-year partnership is over, I respect Lydia and her team’s decision.”

South Korean-born Ko won her first event as a professional in Taiwan this month after a stellar amateur career, which included becoming the youngest player to win a pro tournament, at just 14.

She will reportedly work with British coach David Leadbetter, who also has Ko’s IMG stablemate Michelle Wie on his books.

Ko’s success has generated a wave of hype that has seen Time magazine name her as one of the world’s most influential teens, although pundits have also praised her grounded attitude, attributing it partly to the team around her.