Could Ludvig Åberg be the Masters’ fourth rookie champion?

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Ludvig Aberg is set to make his Masters debut this week.
Posted on
April 9, 2024
by
Jack Lumb in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

As we approach the 88th Masters, all eyes will be on the likes of McIlroy, Rahm and Scheffler. But a dark horse is teeing it up this week, and his name is Ludvig Åberg

Having turned pro in only June of last year, Åberg has already taken the golfing world by storm. After recording his first professional win at the final Ryder Cup qualifying in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, the Swede earned a place in the European team as one of Luke Donald’s wild card picks.

During that memorable Ryder Cup — albeit not so memorable for the Americans — Åberg tallied an unbeaten 2-2-0 record, including a 9&7 thrashing with fellow Scandinavian, Viktor Hovland, over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.

Victor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg at the Ryder Cup in Rome
Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg at the Ryder Cup in Rome, 2023 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Just a month and a half later and only five months after turning pro, Åberg claimed his first PGA Tour title at the RSM Classic in Georgia, shooting back-to-back rounds of 61 on the weekend to card the lowest winning score in the history of the competition.

Fast forward to the 2024 season and Ludvig Åberg is in fine form: eight cuts made from eight, with one runner-up and three top-ten finishes including the Players Championship, while also sitting 12th in overall strokes gained (1.116) and 19th in scoring average (69.42).

But the big question remains, can he do it at his first major championship?

In this sense, I guess it comes from the old saying “Expect the unexpected”. Not that it would be unexpected for him to win, but more unsuspecting. You see, all eyes will be on the big dogs who have found themselves in the limelight leading up to the 88th Masters, whereas Åberg can go quietly under the radar.

John Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy among Masters contenders
John Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy among Masters contenders

Rory McIlroy carries the added pressure of trying to accomplish his career grand slam, following a ten-year major drought and heartbreak on more than one occasion at Augusta National. For the patrons and those watching worldwide, McIlroy will be the subject of immense scrutiny.

Scottie Scheffler is in the form of his life — and certainly not to be excluded in the running — however, as the bookie's favourite, he will be expected to perform. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason he’s been the world number one for a total of 81 weeks and consecutively for 47. So far in the 2024 season, Scheffler has played in eight events, winning twice and finishing outside the top ten just once — insane golf. With a Masters title already to his name, it’s hard to look past him this week. But as we’ve seen before, anything can happen at Augusta National.

John Rahm will be looking to dismiss the LIV Tour haters as he prepares to defend his Masters title. And though the Spaniard shouldn’t be written off, his form going into Augusta is not that of last year. Rahm is 16th in fairways hit (55.71%) and 17th in putting average (1.58), with only one top-three finish in five 54-hole events. If he’s to don the green jacket once again, he’ll need to find better consistency, and quickly.

So where does this leave Ludvig Åberg?

There have only ever been three debutant winners at Augusta National: Horton Smith at the inaugural 1934 Masters (known then as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament), Gene Sarazen in 1935 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Gene Sarazen
Gene Sarazen

With first-time winners being so far and few between, there’s no pressure sitting on the young man’s shoulders.

The sensational Swede can tee it up on Thursday with nothing to lose but everything to gain, and that’s quite the position to be in. Åberg exudes natural talent. Having already proven a mature, winning mentality in his short professional career so far, he’s sure to achieve greatness in the years to come.

As he makes his way down Magnolia Lane and onto the first tee, Åberg will know that he has just as much chance of winning as every other golfer on the course. And it’s with this quiet confidence, that we might just see the Masters' fourth rookie champion.

About Jack Lumb

Jack is the editor of Golf Today. Having spent ten years playing competitively at a high amateur level and five years at county, he has carried his knowledge of the game into the world of journalism. He once set the course record at his home club, only for it to be beaten a month later.

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