Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko may have found her new coach, the same coach who helped Ariya Jutanugarn top Ko for Rolex Player of the Year last season.
Ko has worked with Gary Gilchrist for “several sessions” over the last 10 days or so at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla. She is preparing to make her first LPGA start of 2017 next month at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Ko’s team confirmed Tuesday that Ko has been working with Gilchrist but says she isn’t prepared to announce a player/coach union just yet.
Gilchrist also confirmed their work together but isn’t sure if he’s officially her full-time coach.
“It’s an honor for the world No. 1 to ask you to help her with her game,” Gilchrist told GolfChannel.com.
Gilchrist has become a hot coaching commodity in the women’s ranks. He took over as Jutanugarn’s swing coach early last year, before she broke through to win three starts in a row last spring. Jutanugarn would go on to an LPGA best five titles in 2016, including her first major, the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Jutanugarn is No. 2 in the Rolex world rankings.
If Gilchrist wins the job with Ko full time, he’ll be coach to three of the top four players in the women’s world rankings. He’s also coach to No. 4 Shanshan Feng.
“It makes you proud that players feel comfortable wanting you to help them move forward in their careers,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist also coaches 10-time LPGA winner Paula Creamer.
Ko made news last month when she parted ways with David Leadbetter, her swing coach for her first three years as an LPGA member. Ko told GolfChannel.com she valued what she and Leadbetter accomplished together, winning 15 times around the world, but she wasn’t happy with the way she was driving the ball.
“I was looking for more consistency with my driver,” Ko told GolfChannel.com two weeks ago. “I think that’s going to be really important going forward.”
Ko also said she wanted to “take ownership” of her swing under a new coach.
“It’s important for me to understand more about my swing and my game, no matter who I end up working with,” Ko said. “The new coach isn’t going to be with me 365 days a year. If I learn more about my game, I’ll be able to find answers within myself, when I’m away from my coach. I think that’s going to be really important, so I’m not as reliant on coaches.”
Gilchrist and Leadbetter have a history together. As a young coach, Gilchrist worked under Leadbetter at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Gilchrist worked with Michelle Wie when she was first emerging as a phenom and also coached Yani Tseng during her reign as world No. 1.