Lydia Ko has fired back at the "haters" after her former coach David Leadbetter criticised her "misguided" relationship with her parents.
The Kiwi golf superstar has slumped to two consecutive missed cuts at majors and fallen to a world ranking of 23, after holding the number one spot for 84 weeks while at her peak.
On Tuesday, Leadbetter – who was Ko's swing coach from 2013 until the end of 2016 – spoke out about the 22-year-old golfer's drop in form, saying it was "a very sad situation to observe".
"Her team have to be thinking that they have made some huge mistakes taking an unbelievably talented player and turning her into ordinary," Leadbetter told Radio Sport.
"I hope she gets it back but restoring confidence is never the easiest thing to do. Her parents have a lot to answer for – a case of unbelievable ignorance."
In an Instagram story, Ko hit back at her former coach saying the words from her haters are only making her stronger.
"Thank you to the haters for making me stronger and push me to be the best version of myself," Ko wrote on Instagram.
"And thank you to each and every one that have supported me, your love makes a bump feel like a smooth ride."
Ko's struggles with form continued last week at the British Open, where she shot a horror 80 in the second round – following up a four-over 76 on the first day – to finish the major in second last, missing the cut by 10 shots.
It was her second consecutive missed cut at a major after having similar struggles at the Evian Championship in France where she finished seven shots behind the cut line.
Lydia Ko's Instagram story. Photo / Instagram
Ko's sister Sura, who is part of Lydia's management team, also chimed in on the situation, defending her sister's form issues.
"I don't think this is the time where we need to explain anything beyond and there shouldn't be any particular reason with this struggle either," Sura Ko told Radio Sport. "Every sports person is the same, tiring from the travel, technique issues etc but for now we want to just hang in here and try as hardest we can to get back to the level."
The Kos' response could be seen as a direct reply to Leadbetter who has been an outspoken critic of their parents' influence on Lydia's career.
"I just think that those parental issues have been such that I think she's been misguided. I think her parents are naive as far as what should happen in the game of golf.
"I think her parents need to sort of let her go and do her thing. She's 21-22 years of age now. She could control her own career. She should know what's best for her.
"She's not a 12-year-old anymore. So they need to let her go, let her fly, let her leave the nest so to speak and find her own way. If she can do that, I mean yeah we could see Lydia back."
Leadbetter's advice for Ko was to take some time off golf to "get her head together, relax, get away from the game and rethink this whole thing".