Lydia Ko has buried her mental demons, quite literally, as she prepares for the third major of the season this week at the women's PGA Championship in Pennsylvania.
Aside from the already mentally taxing hurdles that a global pandemic presents, it's also been a challenging year for Ko on the golf course, having come so agonisingly close to breaking her win drought at the Marathon Classic in August, while having up-and-down finishes since the LPGA Tour resumed.
But it's also been a year of slow progress, manifesting itself in a steady climb up the golf rankings to No 34 – thanks in part to the seemingly positive impact of her new swing coach Sean Foley which has resulted in four top-15 finishes in the six tournaments they've worked together.
It's still a far cry from the consistent dominance we've come to expect from Ko, where she held the world number one spot for 84 weeks, but she says she's starting to head in the right direction under Foley, who has worked with the likes of Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.
"I think obviously it's been a few months working with Sean and I think we've kept it really simple – not over-complicating anything," Ko said.
"Every time I see him for a lesson or I talk over the phone, I think we're covering all the same things. It's great working with my trainers as well. We're all on the same page and making sure we're looking in the right direction. It's been good.
"I think he's been able to not only help me in the technique standpoint, but also trying to clear out some of the questions in my head. Sometimes those are more important than the technical parts."
Foley outlined some of Ko's technical progress in a lengthy post on Instagram last week, where he highlighted her improvements off the tee while praising her short game.
"It became insanely good as soon as she UNDERSTOOD the MATH and the WHY. Technique + Talent is undefeated," he wrote. "This woman has incredible skill."
Ko says she's in constant dialogue with Foley and is thankful for the progress she's made in her game over the last few tournaments.
But it is perhaps her improvements mentally under Foley that will push her back to her best after struggling on and off the golf course in recent years.
"He'll say 'just go out there, dig a little hole, put all your bad, crappy thoughts in there, and then put the sand over it and never look at it again'," she said.
"So I actually did that in my backyard. He was like 'go get a little canoe tombstone thing and put it in the ground' and I actually did it. I sent him a picture and said 'see, I did it'.
"It's a fun way of interpreting it. I think it's just as important to clear those questions in your head mentally and philosophically and I think he's really helped me in that respect where I kind of bury it and just walk away and try not to think about it."
When it comes to the task ahead at the "tricky" Aronimink Golf Club, Ko believes consistency and playing smart will be pivotal, something she's shown glimpses of this year.
"I love that this is a very traditional style golf course – a lot of big trees, tighter fairways. I really think the biggest characteristic about this golf course is that – and obviously you have to hit it straight – I don't think it plays in the favour of any distance hitter.
"There's bunkers here, there and everywhere. It kind of goes into play for everyone. So I think anyone who is really consistent is going to be a big key."