Lydia Ko's axing of Australian caddie Jason Hamilton 'very surprising': Steve Williams

Lydia Ko's caddy Jason Hamilton hands out advice during the Rio Olympics where the world No 1 won a silver medal.
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Lydia Ko's caddy Jason Hamilton hands out advice during the Rio Olympics where the world No 1 won a silver medal.

Steve Williams is very surprised at Lydia Ko's axing of her caddie because of a form slump.

Williams, who famously caddied for three world number ones, Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Adam Scott, thought Ko's loss of form wasn't enough to justify dumping Australian Jason Hamilton.

"It's very surprising news," Williams said. "This is the first form slump of any kind she's had as a professional - and it's only a slight form dip - and it doesn't seem like a reason to release her caddie.

"Maybe they've hit the panic button a bit early."

READ MORE:
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Ko hits LPGA career-low with finish in 51st 

Steve Williams pictured as caddie for Tiger Woods in 2006.
RON KUNTZ/REUTERS

Steve Williams pictured as caddie for Tiger Woods in 2006.

 


The split last week came after Ko produced her worst finish of the year with a 51st placing at the KEB HanaBank Championship in South Korea, finishing three-over for the tournament.

But that continued a lean streak for Ko who has had just one top five finish in her last five tournaments, including a 20th and 43rd in the immediate leadup to her disaster in Korea. 

Williams said the influence of Ko's parents could be a factor as it often was for players of Korean heritage.

"It's quite well documented that Korean players - and I know Lydia is a New Zealander - tend to have caddies for a short time.

"And the parents or caregivers of these young women have a lot more to do with the day-to-day decision-making compared to more experienced professionals."

Ko went through seven caddies during her rookie season, before hiring Hamilton at the end of 2014.

Veteran Hamilton took the decision on the chin.

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"All Lydia told me was she wanted a different set of eyes out there," Hamilton told Golfweek.

"Nothing surprises me any more after 26 years."

Hamilton also spoke to the Golf Channel, telling them: "These things happen, it's part of the game. She told me in the clubhouse after the round that she felt like now was a good time to make a change. She said she thought it would be good to get a different set of eyes out there."

Hamilton said he had already been hired by world No 8 Ha Na Jang, who has had three wins this year.

Ko and Hamilton had an incredible run of success together.

Ten of Ko's 14 LPGA wins, including both her major titles, have come with Hamilton on her bag.

Ko won player of the year honours last year and that success rolled into this season where she and Hamilton combined for four wins as well as the silver medal at the Rio Olympics.

With Hamilton's help she became the game's youngest No 1 and twice took home the US$1 million bonus check as CME Race to the Globe winner.

Ko is not the first world No 1 to sack Hamilton – he was also given his marching orders by Yani Tseng, after her form slumped in 2012.

However, the change did little to help Tseng who has not won a LPGA tournament since she sacked Hamilton, and she is now ranked 92nd in the world.

Hamilton ended up on Ko's bag not long after he caddied for Danny Lee, and showed some foresight in his initial doubts about working for the Kiwi phenom.

"That was one reservation about picking up the job . . . if I'm so involved and she plays poorly I'm going to be the one that cops all the flak," he said last year.

Ko still sits top of the LPGA money list and several other categories this year.

But she has Ariya Jutanugarn breathing down her neck.

Neither are playing this week's Blue Bay tournament at the Jian Lake, Blue Bay Golf Course on Hainan Island, China.

Ko's coach, David Leadbetter, confirmed fatigue was becoming a factor for the 19-year-old Ko as her busy year draws to a close.

Ko will make her next start at the Sime Darby Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur next week

 - Stuff

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