Ludvig Aberg creating most fuss around Swede since Abba's arrival in 1974
With a DP World Tour win already in the bag, having achieved that notable feat in just his ninth start as a professional, and heading to Rome in a fortnight’s time to play in the Ryder Cup, the 23-year-old found himself well and truly in the spotlight in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
He admitted to feeling “nervous” about playing alongside both Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland and also acknowledged that a huge crowd following the trio was a lot different to when he was still playing college golf in the US just over three months ago, but, even so, it turned into another day when Aberg lived up to his billing as golf’s new superstar in the making.
Helped by a burst of five straight birdies from the 11th on the iconic West Course at the Surrey venue, he opened with a four-under-par 68, which beat FedEx Cup winner Hovland’s effort by a shot and left him four ahead of world No 2 McIlroy after the first circuit in the $9 million Rolex Series event. On a sun-kissed day, Aberg showed he actually is human by taking a double-bogey 7 at the 17th after hitting his tee shot out of bounds, but no wonder everyone is talking about him at the moment.
McIlroy said on Tuesday that he’d moved to the “front of the Aberg bandwagon” after playing in the same group as him during the European team’s Ryder Cup get-together at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome on Monday and, after this latest eye-catching effort, it was Hovland’s turn to sing his praises.
“He’s a stud,” declared the Norwegian. “When you have the tools, it is easy to trust it. He’s obviously very mature and you just step up and do it. He’s super talented and he is going to be around a long time. He’s going to do great things.”
Though Dane Marcus Helligkilde finished with three straight birdies for an impressive eight-under-par 64 to lead by two shots from Richie Ramsay and Matt Fitzpatrick in an event featuring all 12 members of the European team, Aberg was once again the name being mentioned by most people, the majority of whom had never heard of him until a few weeks ago yet were excited to clap eyes on him in the flesh for the first time.
“There were a little more people than I am used to,” said Aberg, smiling afterwards. “Playing with Rory and Viktor is a lot of fun. To be walking down the fairway with them and having conversations has been pretty cool. I am proud of the way I handled that, playing good golf with so much going on and I am trying to keep that up.”
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