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Gilchrist, coach to top players, busy man at ANA

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Gary Gilchrist started on the far left end of the practice range Wednesday at the ANA Inspiration, working with Paula Creamer before sliding 50 yards down to work with Lydia Ko, then bouncing over to check on Ariya Jutanugarn and then on to Yani Tseng.

Gilchrist checked in on Shanshan Feng earlier.

The man is as much master juggler as swing coach.

Gilchrist has never been in more demand.

When Ko hired him in January, he was coach to the top two players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. When Feng moved to No. 3 a few weeks ago, he had the top three players in the world (No. 1 Ko, No. 2 Jutanugarn and No. 3 Feng).

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What’s that like?

“It’s satisfying coming to events and seeing these women compete at the highest level,” Gilchrist said.

With Jutanugarn now within striking distance of Ko in the world rankings, Gilchrist was asked if there’s anything awkward in coaching so many top ranked players. With a victory this week, Jutanugarn can move to No. 1 and end Ko’s run of 75 consecutive weeks at the top.

“They all want to beat each other out here, but it’s a healthy rivalry,” Gilchrist said.

How does he make time for everyone at an event?

Gilchrist said the most important work with his players is done away from tournament sites.

“When I come to tournaments, if the girls aren’t ready to play, something’s wrong,” Gilchrist said. “When I’m at an event, I’m there for emotional support. When they’re getting ready to tee off, I’m not there changing their swing. Most of the time, they don’t even need me to warm up.”

Gilchrist said he’s also big on getting his players to fix themselves. He doesn’t want them running to him with every issue.

“The players who are too dependent on their coaches, they’re going to struggle,” Gilchrist said. “They aren’t taking 100 percent responsibility for their games.”