RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Lydia Ko is no stranger to success at Mission Hills Country Club. In 2016 she added to her trophy case by winning the ANA Inspiration — her second major title — at the age of 18. Her resume was as impressive as anyone’s in golf.
But then, the success all but dried up. Sure, she’s won since then, but not nearly at the clip that elevated her to world No. 1. With just three wins since that last major title, the last five years have been a relative struggle for Ko.
Right around the time those struggles began, Ko parted with her long-time swing coach David Leadbetter. The split came as “a bit of a shock” to Leadbetter, and in hindsight appears to have been a misguided decision.
Since the split, Ko has gone through a number of swing instructors, but to no avail. Ko is still searching for that next title and to regain that form that she made look so effortless as a teen. At the current moment, that means working with GOLF Top 100 Teacher Sean Foley.
The two have been together since last summer, and although Ko has yet to nab that elusive next victory, there are signs of encouragement. She’s registered seven top 10s in her last 14 starts and a breakthrough looks to be on the horizon.
“He’s kept it simple,” Ko said. “[Foley] said, ‘We’re not trying to find new solutions to problems.’ …He’s very straight forward and I think that’s good.”
That consistent form was present yet again in Round 1 of the ANA Inspiration as Ko posted five birdies on her way to a two-under opening 18.
After the round, GOLF.com caught up with her to discuss what types of changes she’s been making since she began working with Foley. Here’s what she had to say.
Straightening out alignment
One of the big things that has hurt Ko’s swing in recent years has been alignment, and Foley has been working to get it straightened out. If you don’t nail the fundamentals, it can be difficult to make a consistent swing.
“I have a tendency to aim a little right, so I’m making sure that my alignment is good,” Ko said. “We noticed that when my alignment is off, I make compensations in my swing.”
Better position at the top
With Ko’s alignment getting more consistent, Foley has been helping her get the correct feeling at the top of her backswing. She tries not to get too technical in her swing, so this position can vary.
“[We’ve worked on] putting me in a position at the top of my backswing where I feel like I can hit the shape that I want to hit it, putting it in a strong position” Ko said. “That makes it super simple without getting super technical and position-related.”
No more overthinking
Ko is an admitted overthinker. Foley is trying to help her get away from that. In golf, the simpler, the better.
“I think sometimes I have a tendency to overthink things,” Ko said. “It’s just one swing thought or one feeling that really helps me. Day by day, or week. By week it could be different.”
Focus more on feel
As noted above, Ko is not one who thrives when focusing too much on technique. Relying on feel can be tough when you aren’t playing well, and so Foley is helping her instill good feelings into her swing.
“Sometimes I’ll have a shot or a hole where I don’t feel comfortable, but I need to focus more on my feel,” Ko said.