Everybody has their own ideas about why this has happened, although you could say it was just par for the course. Lydia has now officially changed caddies and instructors in the last couple of months, and word is that she's going to change equipment soon (from Callaway to PXG). This kind of thing really isn't unusual in the pro ranks -- male or female -- and it's not like she hasn't done this sort of thing before.
But Lydia hasn't played all that well since the Olympics. You can read this reprint of a recent Golf World article by Jaime Diaz that speculates on a variety of possible reasons for the split, as well as a Golf Digest post from Ryan Herrington this past week that suggests declining play may be the reason.
Among those possible reasons given are:
- dissatisfaction with Leadbetter's 'A Swing,' which was supposed to help Lydia get longer and more accurate (she declined in both distance off the tee and GIR this past season)
- tensions with her caddie
- increased competition from players like Jutanugarn and Henderson
- burnout, and
- other possible but unnamed distractions.
My own experiments with the 'A Swing' when the book came out roughly 18 months ago convinced me that it isn't for everyone. I was unable to make the swing correctly even once, despite understanding the concepts and working some with the drills in the book. With such a busy year due to the Olympics, Lydia may have simply got tired and couldn't muster the necessary concentration to perform the swing consistently. After all, the 'A Swing' is noticeably different from her old swing.
It wouldn't take much to push me toward a possible case of temporary burnout as the primary reason, given the fact that Lydia stated after the Tour Championship that she intended to get away from golf for a while. (Diaz's article includes her famous quote: “Month off. Don’t touch my clubs. I think they are sick of me too.”) And it's probably coupled with the realization that her old swing seemed to work well even when she was tired.
Perhaps it's no more than a desire to simplify. Take a month off, clear the cobwebs out of her head. Don't touch the clubs for a month, then come back to practice with the old swing that she knows so well with new equipment. Start the 2017 season with a new caddie, a fresh voice in her ear.
But then again, maybe this isn't such a mystery at all. Lydia's birthday is April 24. She'll turn 20, no longer a teenager. Maybe, just maybe these are her first steps toward reinventing herself as an adult and she feels the off-season is the best time to do it.
Hmmm... It works for me.