February 12, 2017

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Lydia Ko says it was just a coincidence that saw her change her coach, caddie and clubs all at the same time last year.

Ko will start the new season at the Australian Open in Adelaide on Thursday surrounded by a very different team from the one she ended 2016.

She had since parted ways with coach David Leadbetter, hiring South African Gary Gilchrist and replaced her long-time caddie Jason Hamilton with another South African, Gary Matthews. The LPGA's top-ranked player, Ko has also changed her clubs.

The changes followed the first minor slump in Ko's career. The 19-year-old New Zealander won 14 LPGA titles between 2012 and 2016 but hasn't won a tournament since July last year, a stretch of nine LPGA tournaments.

But Ko told reporters in Adelaide Monday ''it was a coincidence that it all happened at the same time.''

''I obviously wasn't planning to say `hey I want to change everything up','' Ko said. ''I felt like I needed some change.

''Even though I might be the No.1 ranked player in the world, I still feel like there's a lot of aspects of my game that I can improve on. And I think no matter what ranking you are, you have got to have that mindset because there is always a position for you to get better.''

Ko said she was excited about the upcoming season.

''A lot of things have changed but it's a really exciting time,'' she said. ''I'm confident in the team that I have changed, equipment-wise too.

''I think it's more the excitement factor rather than worrying about `hey, is this going to work out or not'.''

Ko said she is still using the same ball but felt her new clubs have given her a little more distance off the tee.

''With Gary my caddie, this will be my third week working with him,'' she said. ''We're still in the process of getting to know each other and I think the relationship will hopefully get better as we go on.

''But coach-wise I just wanted to simplify things. I got compliments from other players with the new swing so I think we're going down the right direction.''

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