In the summer of 2020, Lydia Ko was in the midst of a severe slump. Once the top-ranked player in the world, Ko had slipped to No. 50 in the Rolex rankings as she hadn’t won a tournament since 2018. So, she made a change.
Ko sought out the name of one of the most well-respected instructors in the game — Sean Foley. The GOLF Top 100 Teacher has tutored some of the top names in golf during his career and Ko was looking for some help. It turned out to be a perfect fit.
Since making the change, Ko has looked like an entirely different golfer. She’s finished in the top 10 in nine of her last 16 starts, set the final-round major championship scoring record at the ANA Inspiration and, most recently, returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in nearly three years.
After the win, Foley took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message with his latest success story. In it, Foley opens up and shares of his own personal struggles that he was experiencing when the two began working together. It seems the partnership may not have been just the thing Ko needed, but what Foley needed as well.
“How I feel about Lydia is if I were to design a daughter, it would be Lydia,” Foley told GOLF.com shortly after Ko’s historic final round at the ANA. “She’s just so special and amazing.”
Foley then detailed the work he and Ko have put in to get back to the point where she feels totally in control of her game. And as it turns out, it all stemmed from reminding her that the talent to be great is still within her, she just has to recapture it.
“I’m just glad to be able to remind her of what she already is,” Foley said. “I haven’t really showed her anything new, it was already there. Some players, you show what’s inside of them. And others, you remind them. That was just a reminder.”
Foley mentioned Jordan Spieth as another player who reached the pinnacle of the sport at a young age and then having to battle back from the depths. As he put it, “Golf is too hard to go unscathed for too long.”
For Spieth, he came out of his struggles by sticking to what had worked in the past. There were no caddie changes or swing coach splits. For Ko, it was quite the opposite. The answer is different for every player.
“Lydia is a human being, and all human beings carry trauma,” Foley said. “Going from where golf was really easy to where it was really difficult is hard. I’m just glad to be able to remind her of who she really is. I haven’t really showed her anything new. It was already there.”