He just graduated from Texas Tech this past spring.
He has never played in a major championship.
And yet, Ludvig Åberg is ready to don the blue and gold of Europe at the 2023 Ryder Cup.
“He seems very unfazed,” said Luke Donald, the Captain of the European team who selected Åberg.
“He’s a listener. He’s certainly not someone three or four months into his professional career who will be talking up and being a leader like that. That’s not his style. He seems very unfazed. Every time he’s sort of asked a question of trying to perform, he’s able to step up, and I’m excited to have him on the team.”
During those first few months of his professional career, the 23-year-old Swede has exceeded expectations.
In his PGA Tour debut as a pro, Åberg tied for 25th at the RBC Canadian Open.
Then, a month later, the young Swede fired rounds of 65 and 67 to open the Rocket Mortgage Classic while playing alongside Donald.
But Donald asserts that European leadership has kept a watchful eye on Åberg since January.
“He certainly came on to my radar at the beginning of the year in Dubai,” Donald said Monday.
“He was paired with Edoardo Molinari, one of my vice captains, and he was like, ‘We need to keep an eye on this guy.’ When you play with certain players, you can tell. They have a certain talent that you see them hit golf balls, and you’re blown away by the different strike, the sound, and the trajectory. How he can drive a golf ball is very, very impressive.”
Indeed, Åberg has already become one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the planet—taking after fellow European Rory McIlroy.
He even led the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee from early June through the end of the season in August, according to statistician Justin Ray.
Strokes gained off-the-tee leaders on the PGA Tour since Ludvig Aberg’s pro debut at the Canadian Open (minimum 20 rounds):
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) August 31, 2023
“The driver is the most fun club to hit,” Åberg said Tuesday. “It goes the furthest. I felt that way since I was probably 10, and I still feel that way. I like hitting my driver, and luckily, it’s one of the better clubs in the bag, too.”
The Eslov, Sweden native also hits the ball dead straight, focusing on hitting it in the center of the face instead of working it from left to right or vice versa.
That will prove huge at Marco Simone, a course that puts a premium on finding fairways with its U.S. Open-like rough.
“The fairways are going to be important to be on,” Åberg said of Marco Simone. “It will be a lot easier to win points if you’re in the fairway. In general, we do that quite well as a group, and then we’ll take it from there.”
Åberg found the fairway 61% of the time in his last three DP World Tour starts: the D+D Real Czech Masters, the Omega European Masters, and the BMW PGA Championship.
That number does not jump out, but his superior distance off the tee and his ability to find greens in regulation are incredible.
During those 12 rounds, the young Swede averaged 317.4 yards off the tee. Only two players hit the ball farther on the PGA Tour, one of them being McIlroy.
He then found the green a preposterous 77.2% of the time during that three-tournament stretch.
For perspective, Scottie Scheffler had a historic ball-striking season in 2023, and he hit 74.43% of greens to lead the PGA Tour.
Given these numbers, it is unsurprising that Åberg finished in the top 10 in each event, while winning the Omega European Masters outright.
“It’s pretty incredible what he’s done right out of the gates, having a great Sunday in Crans and a really strong performance in Wentworth,” Jon Rahm said of Åberg. “Clearly, he has the potential.”
Sure, these three tournaments are a small sample size, but it goes to show how talented Åberg is.
“His pedigree is just starting,” Donald said. “He’s just getting on his road. He’s just starting to write his history. I think he’s a generational talent.”