How Swede it is!

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The name Ludvig Åberg may not be recognized as an up and coming pro golfer -- just yet. M. James Ward reviews the near stunning play of a likely future major champion.
Posted on
April 15, 2024
by
M. James Ward in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

AUGUSTA, GA. In the storied history of the Masters only three men have won the coveted green jacket in their first appearance. A fourth nearly did so in the 88th edition of the famed tournament.

To be sure the name Ludvig Åberg sounds more like a concert pianist than a top tier pro golfer.

The 24-year-old inserted himself into the final round and remained a presence throughout.

Amazingly, the talented Swede was playing not only in his first Masters but first major championship. He is also the first to have played on a Ryder Cup team (Europe) before playing in his inaugural major tournament.

Åberg started the final round three shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler and the 9th ranked player in the world inserted himself quickly into the fray.

He played the outward nine flawlessly, scoring 33. As the contenders headed into the back nine, he had closed the margin with Scheffler to one shot.

Up to this point Åberg had shown poise for a Masters rookie. That all came undone at the dangerous par-4 11th. After finding the fairway he inexplicably pulled his approach into the adjoining pond that guards the green.

Credit Åberg's candor as he freely admitted his approach was simply poorly played.

A double-bogey would follow and matters were further complicated as Scheffler started exhibiting the form that has carried him to the top of the world golfing pyramid. The Texan would birdie six holes between the 8th and 16th and secure a sizeable cushion for him to end the day with two final pars on the 17th and 18th respectively and a four-shot victory.

After the double-bogey pushed him backwards Åberg gamely fought on with consecutive birdies at the 13th and 14th holes.

What needs to be understood is that Åberg only turned pro in June 2023. He had been ranked the number one amateur in the world for 29 weeks. His stellar performance as a collegian at Texas Tech prompted him to make the move to the professional ranks and the entry has been nothing short of rocket-like.

The week after the Ryder Cup, Åberg returned to the PGA Tour and finished as joint runner-up in the Sanderson Farms Championship, losing to Luke List in a five-man playoff. In November, he won his first tournament on the PGA Tour, the RSM Classic. Åberg brilliantly fashioned back-to-back rounds of 61 on the weekend to finish at 29-under-par, four strokes ahead of Mackenzie Hughes.

His 72-hole score of 253 tied the PGA Tour scoring record by Justin Thomas. The victory moved Åberg into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings and secured him an invitation for this year's Masters. Åberg has also won on the DP World Tour.

The involvement of Sweden on the world golf stage is not a new development as a number of women players of note have played professionally – headlined by the star power of Annika Sörenstam. On the men's side there have been several notable players with the likes of Jesper Parnevik but none has captured a major championship, thus far.

Plan on Åberg changing that storyline in the very near future.

Ludvig Åberg at the 88th Masters
(George Walker IV/AP)

Åberg has opened the door in leading the next generation of talented young players to hit the big stage with impact. Many of these players have been battle-tested at different levels through junior and elite level amateur play respectively. The missing ingredient now is competing in major championships and becoming acclimated to the intensity that is present for such events.

Åberg's golf skills are balanced with a mature emotional equilibrium. Even after the doomed double-bogey he maintained his focus and readiness to rejoin the battle.

What is utterly clear is that the world golf scene is rapidly evolving.

In years past many players could have extended competing years going well into their 40s. Now, with new rules in place reducing the number of exempt players from 125 to 70, the competitive golf scene on the PGA Tour has only increased dramatically.

Ludvig Åberg entered the scene this week at Augusta. Like I said - he's no concert pianist but the music he plays on the golf course shows a man with immense talent and an insatiable appetite to collect future trophies - lots of them.

To paraphrase the legendary comedian Jackie Gleason - "How Swede it is."

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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