Former No 1 Ko shrugs off critics of 2018 backroom shake-up

by Mathew Scott

Singapore (AFP) - Former world number one Lydia Ko brushed off concerns Wednesday about changes to her backroom team and insisted she was poised to return to the top of her game.

"I have no regrets in the decisions I have made," the defiant New Zealand star said in Singapore ahead of this week's HSBC Women's World Championship after starting her 2018 season with a new caddie and coach.

The 20-year-old comes into the $1.5 million LPGA Tour event, formerly known as the HSBC Champions, ranked 11th in the world and without a victory on the LPGA Tour since the Marathon Classic in July 2016.

She had 11 top-10 finishes across the 2017 season ?- and collected more than $1 million in prize money -- but it still remained a far cry from the exploits of the fresh-faced teenager who tore the scene apart back in 2015.

Five victories, including her first Major at the Evian Championship, took Ko to the very pinnacle of ladies golf that year as she became the game's youngest ever world number one aged just 17.

Many observers, including New Zealand great and 1963 British Open winner Bob Charles, have questioned Ko's methods -- she has had 11 caddies since turning professional in 2013.

"I had two caddies over a 20-year period and my most recent caddie has been off and on with me for 30 years," Charles told New Zealand media recently.

Ko split with long-time coach David Leadbetter at the end of 2016 and changed her club manufacturer.

Then before starting her season at the Australian Open earlier this month she parted company with swing coach Gary Gilchrist and caddie Peter Godfrey.

- Form glimpses -

Ko preferred to look forward with no regrets. "I think that it is really important to do what's best at that moment even though later on you might think you could have made a better decision," said Ko.

"It was always going towards the right direction and sometimes you're not going to take the big steps that will take you towards that final goal, it's little steps."

Ko has come into this week's event at Sentosa Golf Club off the back of a tied 19th finish at the Australian Open and a share of 31st at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand event, showing glimpses of the form that carried her to the top of the game.

"I'm not really the type to look at the rankings and say hey I've gotta to do this or do that," said Ko.

"Every week is a new week and when you're out there you have to play with confidence. Obviously this is a tournament with a great field so you need to have your best game. If there are opportunities I am going to grab them."

The Women's World Championship has attracted a field that boasts 19 of the world's top 20 including Chinese number one Feng Shanshan and former world number one Park In-bee from South Korea, who won the event last year and in 2015.

American Jessica Korda, four-shot winner of last weekend?s event in Thailand, will be looking to continue her good run of form and eyes will also be on 15-year-old Thai sensation Atthaya Thitikul.