Earlier this week, Sean Martin, a hard-working writer for the PGA Tour, shared that he was at a Starbucks in Sea Island, Georgia, and that two “Tour winners” were there, too, talking. They were gob-smacked. The subject?
The player on everyone’s mind over the past few months.
“Player 1: ‘There is no world where we’d be able to beat Ludvig on a consistent basis.’
“Player 2: ‘I didn’t really know who he was. After playing 6 holes with him, I thought he was the next f***ing Tiger Woods.’”
Yeah, Ludvig Aberg, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound, missile-launching, sublime-swinging 24-year-old from Sweden, has made that kinda splash. He’s been on some rocket ship. College player of the year earlier this year. Turned pro soon afterward. Just one missed cut in 12 Tour starts. In early September, a win on the DP World Tour. Soon after, an invite to the European Ryder Cup team. A few weeks later, a Ryder Cup victory.
And now, a Tour winner for the first time, at the RSM Classic, the circuit’s final event of the year.
Sunday was a show, too, during the final round at Sea Island Golf Club. Aberg started the final round up one. And he never let go.
Aberg birdied right out of the gate, on 1, on an 11-foot putt. He birdied the 4th, on a 22-footer. He birdied the 5th, after cutting the corner on the par-4 and driving (!) the green. He birdied the 6th, after hitting his tee shot to 5 feet. He birdied the 9th, on a 12-footer. Halfway through, Aberg was up two, over Mackenzie Hughes.
It mostly stayed that way, despite Hughes’ best effort. Aberg birdied the 10th, after hitting his approach to 7 feet. He birdied the 11th, on an 8-footer. He slipped on the 12th, bogeying. Trouble? Nah. He birdied 15 and 17 and 18, the last one coming on a 19-footer.
And that was that. Aberg closed with a nine-under 61. He finished with a 29-under total, which was four better than Hughes and seven better than Tyler Duncan. He’s your winner in the Tour’s finale.
In the face of all the hype.
Who’s gonna beat Aberg on a consistent basis?
The next f***ing Tiger Woods?
All good questions to ponder heading into 2024.
The Aberg era begins.
The leaderboard breakdown
— Ludvig Aberg starts the final round with a one-shot lead over Eric Cole. Aberg’s at 20-under, Cole is at 19-under, Mackenzie Hughes is at 18-under, and Tyler Duncan is at 17-under.
— Aberg birdies the 413-yard, par-4 1st on an 11-foot putt, and he takes a two-shot lead over Cole. Aberg is at 21-under, Cole is at 19-under, and Hughes is at 18-under.
— Aberg birdies the 426-yard, par-4 4th on a 22-foot putt, and he retakes his two-shot lead. He’s at 22-under, Hughes is at 20-under, and Duncan and Cole are at 18-under.
— Aberg birdies the 408-yard, par-4 5th after cutting the corner and driving the green, and he takes a three-shot lead. He’s at 23-under, Hughes is at 20-under, and Duncan is at 19-under.
— Aberg birdies the 171-yard, par-3 6th after hitting his tee shot to 5 feet, and he grabs a four-shot lead. He’s at 24-under, Hughes is at 20-under, and Duncan is at 19-under.
— Aberg birdies the 458-yard, par-4 9th on a 12-foot putt, and, at the halfway point, he leads by two shots. Aberg is at 25-under, Hughes is at 23-under, and Duncan is at 21-under.
— Aberg birdies the 426-yard, par-4 10th after hitting his second shot to 7 feet, and he maintains his two-shot lead. He’s at 26-under, Hughes is at 24-under — after four-straight birdies — and Duncan is at 21-under.
— On the 418-yard, par-4 11th, Hughes is stung by a bad break when his tee shot becomes embedded in sand right of the fairway — but he recovers, dropping a 36-footer for par. Aberg, meanwhile, birdies the hole on an 8-foot putt, and he takes a three-shot lead. Aberg is at 27-under, Hughes is at 24-under, and Duncan is at 22-under.
— On the 215-yard, par-3 12th, Aberg bogeys his first hole after missing the green with his tee shot, and his lead drops to two. He’s at 26-under, Hughes is at 24-under, and Duncan is at 22-under.
— Aberg and Hughes each birdie the 523-yard, par-5 15th — Aberg after chipping to 4 feet on his third shot; Hughes after chipping to a foot on his third shot — and Aberg’s lead remains two shots. Aberg is at 27-under, Hughes is at 25-under, and Duncan is at 22-under.
— Aberg birdies the 202-yard, par-3 17th on a 25-foot putt, and he take a three-shot lead. Aberg is at 28-under, Hughes is at 25-under, and Duncan is at 22-under.
— On the 462-yard, par-5 18th, Aberg birdies again, on a 19-footer. He shoots a nine-under 61 and finishes at 29-under, four better than Hughes.
The final word
“We’re seeing the next superstar take the stage.” — Billy Ray Brown, Golf Channel analyst, as Aberg walked up 18