When the Italian astronomer Galileo poked his telescope skywards from the castle that still stands on the grounds of the Marco Simone Country Club, he drew back a curtain on the stars. There is a dazzling new one in the Roman countryside this week. Welcome everybody to Ludvig Aberg, golf’s latest phenomenon.
Thanks to Luke Donald’s boldness in selecting a Swedish rookie fresh out of American university before he has even played a Major, this Ryder Cup has the feel of a grand unveiling about it.
Aberg is taking in his stride Donald’s assertion that he will be a fixture of the European team for the next two decades. He gives off the air of fulfilling an inevitable destiny although when it was put to him yesterday that he could end up sitting alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bjorn Borg and ABBA as Sweden’s finest export he felt the need to apply the handbrake on the hype.
“I would not put myself in the same sentence as ABBA,” said Aberg. “All I try to do is play golf and I try to hit as few shots as I can every tournament I play in.”
Which he manages rather well. He was the world’s No 1 amateur for 28 weeks, a figure only exceeded amongst Europeans by Jon Rahm, was twice voted the top college player in the US and won on just his ninth start in the pro ranks at the European Masters.
His talents have earned him the nickname The Stud – which means something rather different at Texas Tech than in the UK. “It’s very flattering for sure,” he said.
The 23-year-old has an unflappable demeanour and a game which has everything but his X-factor is the searing driving which had practice day fans cooing in appreciation yesterday.
“Everyone who has seen him strike a golf ball notes that he has that wow factor,” said his mentor, fellow Swede Peter Hanson who played in two Ryder Cups. “Let me put it this way – once you have seen him drive for the first time you don’t forget it.”
Rory McIlroy, who says Aberg (pronounced Or-bear) has his favourite swing in golf, loves to watch him on the tee. “The driver is the most fun club to hit. I’ve felt that way since I was probably ten and I still feel that way,” said Aberg. “I do feel like in general as a team, we are good with the drivers. It’s going to be a lot easier to win points if you’re in the fairway this week and I do feel like it’s in favour of us.”
In Ryder Cup terms he is seen as a fourballs banker – probably in the company of fellow Scandinavian Viktor Hovland with whom he practised yesterday. For most players just four months into their professional careers mixing as equals with the World’s No 4 might be a problem. Not Aberg.
“I feel like a lot of these things that I’m doing these days are the first time I’m doing them so I’m trying to embrace it and have fun with it especially this week.” he said.
“It’s really cool the way that these last couple of months have panned out for me. I will try to play my game and trust that it’s good enough. All I’m trying to do is be myself and see where that takes me.”
Hanson and Europe’s assistant captain Nicolas Colsaerts have been whetting his appetite for what is to come with tales of the Miracle of Medinah in 2012. Aberg has been lapping it up.
“They have been telling me stories about that day just to understand how much it means to them and how much it means to the whole European side,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do something similar this week. We are trying to write our own chapter.”