It did not take long for Ludvig Åberg to turn heads among professional golf’s elite. In an infamously selfish environment, Åberg’s rapid progress prompted intrigue. Just ask Justin Rose.
“I don’t follow the college scene that closely so I wasn’t really aware of all the names coming through but obviously I was very much aware of this European stud, turning pro,” the former world No 1 says. “His name was very quickly on the leaderboard. It became easy to follow him.
“He’s one of the those players that has a very impressive game to the point where in the evening sometimes, if you haven’t watched any golf coverage, you click on and go to his shot tracker. You go: ‘Oh my God, he hit it 340 yards down the middle of that fairway and flicked a wedge in.’ You follow him with a bit more curiosity because he tends to have a couple of weapons that are not at necessarily everybody’s disposal.” The US team have been warned.
Åberg turned professional in June. He has not yet featured in a major championship. At the end of this month in Rome the 23-year-old Swede will don European colours in the Ryder Cup. This rise is the epitome of meteoric.
“He has shown the second weapon of late, calmness under pressure,” Rose says. “We have been talking about him for the Ryder Cup for a long time relative to his career. He has almost played 75% of his professional career with the pressure of trying to make a Ryder Cup team.”
Pressure, what pressure? Åberg was likely to earn a wildcard pick from Luke Donald in any case but made his argument an indisputable one with a closing round of 64 to win the European Masters on Sunday. As Europe seeks new heroes – Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio García have exited the Ryder Cup scene, perhaps permanently – this golfer’s run could not have been better timed. A necessary changing of the guard is taking place in European golf, with Åberg front and centre.
“These young kids are ready,” Donald says. “They are fearless and they are excited to get to grips with experiencing what a Ryder Cup is.”
Indeed, Åberg appears so unflappable that it seems highly unlikely he will be overawed by the biennial joust. Aberg’s even temperament is a huge strength. “I’m pretty good at staying in the moment, staying in the present,” he says. “I do not get too high up, too far low and not too far ahead of myself. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was able to stand out in college in amateur golf. I was able to have my emotions intact.”
Born in Eslöv, a town with a population of just 20,000, Åberg once had a passion for football. Golf soon took over; a product of Texas Tech, he was ranked as the finest amateur in the world when joining the professional ranks. Even before that, he had opened the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic with a 65. During Covid, when at home in Sweden, Åberg beat professionals for two successes in the Nordic League. In 2019, he was part of the Swedish contingent that won the European Team Championship. Now, Åberg does not flinch when asked whether he has eyes fixed on being atop the world rankings. “Oh absolutely. For sure.”
Åberg’s college exploits earned him full status on the PGA Tour until the end of next season. Of more importance to Donald was that the prodigy showed a commitment to reaching the Ryder Cup which saw him make back-to-back appearances in Europe as the automatic qualifying process closed. Åberg tied fourth at the Czech Masters before his stunning victory in the Swiss mountains. Seven out of eight rounds were 68 or less.
“He has the potential to be one of golf’s superstars,” Donald says of Åberg. When looking to recover from Whistling Straits, where the US inflicted a 19-9 tousing, Europe could certainly do with that.