Change of clubs won't faze rookie Lydia Ko

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014
Callaway Golf

New Callaway professional golfer Lydia Ko talks business.

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A change in equipment is the last thing in Lydia Ko's life that will have a negative impact on her golf game, says one of New Zealand's most experienced professionals.

A well sign-posted equipment deal between Ko and Callaway was yesterday officially announced and Greg Turner didn't expect the change to even be a speedbump in the 16-year-old's career.

Former men's world No 1 Rory McIlroy's form dipped 12 months ago after a move to Nike that was initially rumoured to be worth US$250m (NZ$298) before new estimates of $100m (NZ$119m) came out later.

Turner said McIlroy's switch was nothing more than a coincidence and he expected no such dip from Ko.

"There are lots of things happening in her life in terms of going full-time pro at her age, a full schedule in the United States, those are significant," he said.

Ko has also recently split with her coach of 11 years, Guy Wilson.

"Those things are more likely to have an impact than equipment," Turner said. "She's not going to be fazed by a change in clubs."

Ko was using Titleist gear, but will start the 2014 season with a bagful of new Callaway and Odyssey equipment, the same as five-time men's major winner Phil Mickelson.

"We're very excited to announce the final addition of the year to #TeamCallaway, former World #1 Amateur and youngest ever winner on the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko," a Callaway official wrote on the company's Facebook page.

They have not disclosed the details of the deal including its length or its value.

Ko yesterday tweeted: "Its official! Extremely happy to be part of #TeamCallaway!" (sic).

Turner said a change in equipment was not a major deal for professional players and it happened often.

"Getting new clubs could be a big deal to people who don't know much about equipment," he said.

"The critical elements quite possibly could be completely different, but at this level, the equipment manufacturers are well capable of delivering the type of equipment she needs. She will have exactly what she needs and if it's different from what she had in the past it will only be because she's asked for something different."

Ko, currently No 4 in the women's world rankings, will make her debut as an LPGA member at next week's Bahamas Classic before attempting to defend her New Zealand Open title at Christchurch's Clearwater course at the end of the month.

She joins a list of Callaway pros on the LPGA that includes Sandra Gal, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng, while the manufacturer has also recently added young men's prospects Harris English and Matteo Manassero to its stable.

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- Fairfax Media

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