Chris Rattue: Lydia Ko's downward swing was always likely

Lydia Ko has split with caddy Jason Hamilton as she seeks to recover from a form slump. Photo / Getty
Lydia Ko has split with caddy Jason Hamilton as she seeks to recover from a form slump. Photo / Getty

A Lydia Ko downward swing was always on the cards. The amazing thing about Ko is the height she reached in the professional ranks so quickly in the first place.

By her amazing standards, the 19-year-old Kiwi is in a slump and caddy Jason Hamilton has been axed, as caddies often are.

There have been many famous player-caddy bust ups over the years, the one between Tiger Woods and an allegedly indiscreet Fluff Cowan among them. Thus, the great partnership between Woods and Steve Williams was born.

On a quirkier note, the fastidious Gary Player was miffed many years ago when a caddie accidentally left bananas to rot in his bag. There are banana skins awaiting caddies in all shapes and sizes.

Don't be fooled by Ko. Beneath that lovely and composed personality lies an iron will, the sort that drives almost every champion. It powered her to a training regime in her formative years way beyond the capacity of most.

The trouble is, her path to the top of world golf has been so smooth in appearance and rapid that we've almost taken it for granted.

She zoomed out of the amateur ranks and blasted her way past the world's best, while nonchalantly dealing with all sorts of things including major changes to her support team and that challenging time of life known as adolescence.

The universal predictions that she would rise to the top came true far earlier than any of us had the right to expect. She will always be among the most amazing sports stories to emerge from New Zealand.

What Lydia Ko has achieved already - the world ranking, major victories and Olympic silver medal - is a dead set sporting miracle. But there are many other very fine LPGA golfers out there, and they won't be taking her ascension lying down.

Is Hamilton actually to blame? It's very unlikely. He's collateral damage. A brightly burning youngster has hit an almost inevitable wall. Hamilton has been there for 10 of her 14 tournament wins, including the two majors. Getting rid of a comrade who has helped her to so much success might be a dreadful mistake. Is this a wise move, or the initial step in a period of unravelling?

The changes she has made so far, including dumping her hugely successful first coach Guy Wilson, have turned out more than okay. But not every move she makes will work or be regarded as an unqualified success.

It will be fascinating to observe Ko's efforts to reclaim her best game, but there are no guarantees at this level of sport. There could be rough times ahead and harsh lessons to learn. I wish her all the best and sure hope she makes it back to top form.

***

The All Blacks are masters at finding enemies to focus on, threats to be fired up by, or to use a favourite word - things to be wary of. We in the media love to join in.

This week, it was something described as an "unseen Aussie threat". Over recent times, things to be wary of include streakbusting Wallabies, complacency, Argentina at home, wounded Boks, Steyn drop goals, wounded Springboks, Quade Cooper (seriously), hapless Boks, bog-standard Springboks, Pumas engine room, Argentina at home, wounded Welshmen, improving Argentina, Israel Folau, unpredictable Argentina, rustiness, a full moon (okay, I made that one up) and ...drum roll...that really scary status of being tagged as favourites.

In other words, when it comes to the All Blacks we will never run out of things to be wary of and nor will they. The All Blacks could be winning every game by 100 to nil and we'd still be ripping at our nerve ends with a desperate search for the bogeyman. In reality, the All Blacks are running out of things to be wary of.

But that minor matter won't stop us, no siree.

***

Let it go. That's the common cry on the subject of Aaron Smith. Agreed...but not before this observation. The NZR press release said Smith's sexual liaison in a Christchurch Airport disability cubicle amounted to serious misconduct because of the "impact on the reputation of the All Blacks jersey and the commercial partners".

It noted Smith's public apology to his partner, friends and family, team mates, employer and rugby fans. There was no mention of the people Smith and his friend zoomed past to commandeer the toilet for sex, nor the insult to the disabled community. And they reckon rugby is gearing up for a cultural shift. Can't see it happening myself.

***

New Kiwis coach David Kidwell has put up his hand, admitting he got it wrong by leaving Jason Taumalolo on the sideline too long during the horrible test loss in Perth. But the Townsville Tank Taumalolo hadn't started the game very well anyway. That was the real concern.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 27 May 2017 07:47:08 Processing Time: 495ms