Aberg brings A-game to the Alps and heads for Rome

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Aberg is by far the most inexperienced golfer to be picked to play in the Ryder Cup.
Posted on
September 5, 2023
by
Robert Green in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Luke Donald, the European captain for the Ryder Cup match in Rome later this month, yesterday named his six wild-card picks to complete the 12-man team. It seemed, somewhat bizarrely, both surprising and inevitable that one of those selected would be Ludvig Aberg, the 23-year old Swede who on Sunday won the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland. It was his first win in professional golf. He’s only been a pro since June. He has only had three top-10 finishes in 12 starts this year. He has never played in a major championship. (Just consider that sentence again.)  

He is by far the most inexperienced golfer to be picked to play in the Ryder Cup. The former world No.1 ranked amateur golfer had already established a reputation for being a wonderful driver of the ball. Donald asked the organisers of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on the PGA Tour to put him in the same group as Aberg at their tournament in June and he had said earlier this summer that he had been “tracking Ludvig for about a year”. At Crans last week, Donald arranged for him to play the first two rounds with Nicolas Colsaerts and Edoardo Molinari, two of his vice-captains for the match, thereby blatantly inviting Aberg to show what he could do. What he could do was birdie five of the first six holes and on Sunday he completed the job. He is, if you like, the opposite of Justin Thomas, picked for the US team by Zach Johnson because of what he has done in past Ryder Cups (albeit he has only played in two of them) as opposed to what he’s done lately (like shooting in the 80s at both the US Open and at the Open Championship). 

Aberg’s win in Switzerland elevated him from 200th to 90th on the Official World Golf Ranking, which is impressive in itself but it must still leave someone such as Adrian Meronk - ranked 51st and a winner of the Italian Open at Marco Simone, the Ryder Cup venue, earlier this year – wondering if Donald has made the correct call here. As with Thomas, only time and events will tell us. 

The six Europeans to qualify for the team were Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Robert MacIntyre, the latter being a rookie. Donald’s other five picks were Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Sepp Straka and Nicolai Højgaard, the latter two also being rookies. On the Aberg selection, Justin Rose put a different slant on it. “The fact that he has almost played 75% of his professional career with the pressure of trying to make a Ryder Cup team is quite impressive. And then on the final day of the campaign he makes it a bit of a no-brainer for the captain. 

I’m not entirely sure about the no-brainer bit but surely we did need a Swede aboard. Since the Americans last won in Europe thirty years ago (Europe has won three times in the States in that period) only twice has there been no Swede in the side. One of those occasions was last time, at Whistling Straits. And what a hammering the Europeans took then. 

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com plus you can read more by him on golf at robertgreengolf.com

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About Robert Green

Robert Green is a former editor of Golf World and Golf International magazines and the author of four books on golf, including Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius. He has played golf on more than 450 courses around the world, occasionally acceptably.

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