It was ahead of the LPGA restart in July 2020 when Lydia Ko teamed up with renowned coach Sean Foley to try and kick start her career and it has not only seen Ko move back to playing some of her best golf but also seen Foley recognised by Golf New Zealand as the 2020 Coach of the Year.
Sean Foley has coached the great Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and more recently Cameron Champ on the PGA Tour and last year took on Lydia Ko when others had tried and seemingly failed.
Within weeks, anyone watching from afar could notice the change in Ko’s attitude and her game changes followed managing a second in San Francisco weeks later and finishing the year on the cusp of the top ten.
This year she has improved further, winning her first title in almost three years in Hawaii and now leading the LPGA Tour championship past the halfway mark of the year.
When announcing the award winners Golf New Zealand said the 2020 award went to a coach that coaches a New Zealand Player.
“Foley has been an instrumental influence in helping Ko reach the peak of her game once again,” the statement read.
“Under Foley’s tutelage, Ko has returned to the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour for the first time since 2018.”
The Professional Player of the Year award also went to Lydia Ko for being New Zealand’s leading professional in 2020.
Although not achieved in 2020, Ko managed to get back in the winner’s circle for the first time since 2018, as well as shooting a final round of 62 at the ANA Inspiration which has been labelled by some as the most impressive major round in history.
A total of 14 awards have been awarded to different athletes, administrators, events, and facilities for their outstanding contributions to the game in the past year at the National Golf Awards.
Russley Golf Club won one of the most sought-after awards, Club of the Year. The award was given to a club demonstrating excellence and has an outstanding record of achievement across all aspects of its operations.
Leo Barber won Administrator of the Year for his leadership at Paraparaumu Golf Club, Female Amateur Player of the Year was awarded to Amelia Garvey, James Hydes won Male Amateur of the Year while the All Abilities Golfer of the Year was won by Andrew Woo of Maungakiekie Golf Club.
Golf New Zealand Chief Executive Dean Murphy said the National Golf Awards are our chance to celebrate the dedication, commitment, and excellence across the whole golfing community.
“Despite a challenging year, the golf sector has done an outstanding job of navigating the pandemic and thriving through the challenges of 2020,” Murphy said.