Is A Debut Masters And Major Victory Possible For Ludvig Aberg? 'I Mean, I'd Like To Think So, Absolutely'

Ludvig Aberg speaks exclusively to Golf Monthly about his upcoming Major debut in The Masters and the incredible start he's had to his professional career

ludvig aberg master of his own destiny
Can Ludvig Aberg master Augusta on debut?
(Image credit: Getty Images, Future)

No player has won The Masters on his debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Just three players have ever done so in the last 90 years, two of them in the first two stagings. The list of players to have won any of golf’s big four on their very first attempt is a short one, too – just six. This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise; these are the tournaments that provide the sternest of tests – no one is meant to win one first time out. 

This year could be different, for it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a 24-year-old Swede by the name of Ludvig Aberg (you’ve heard of him, yes?) becomes the first player for 45 years to win at Augusta National having never played a professional round there. He’s that good and, as he says so himself, he’s ready.

“I mean, I’d like to think so, absolutely. I feel like I know my capabilities and I know my qualities,” says a relaxed Aberg, when we ask him whether he has the game to win a Major despite never having played in one. “All I can do is prepare for each event the best way I can and then see where that takes me.”

At this point, we need to rewind the clock just to underline what an incredibly quick start this very special talent has had to his career. It goes like this: graduates from college; turns pro; makes PGA Tour debut; records first DP World Tour win; gets picked to play the Ryder Cup; wins the Ryder Cup; wins on the PGA Tour for the first time; cracks the world’s top 50. All this in the space of six months. 

“I don’t think this early, to be fair,” he admits, when we ask whether he expected to have achieved all this so soon. “I think at some point, maybe yes, but I think to be able to do it that quickly, probably no.” 

Donald hailed Aberg as a “generational talent” after handing him a Ryder Cup pick, making him the first-ever player to compete having not yet contested a Major. He also broke the record for the shortest gap between turning pro and playing in the biennial event. Four weeks after Switzerland, and having only played in nine tournaments as a professional, he was celebrating Ryder Cup glory with a bunch of guys he barely knew. The absurdity of it makes him smile. 

“The way I see that is my coaches doing a good job,” he says. “We don’t try to change too much. I feel like the part of my game that has got a lot better is probably my short game and putting. Those things are the most important things that I work on.”

ludvig aberg ryder cup

Ludvig Aberg had a Ryder Cup debut to remember 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is all Aberg can offer by way of an explanation as to how he’s been able to hit the ground, not so much running, but flat-out sprinting. Sometimes there are no great secrets – Aberg is just really good at what he does, and his uncomplicated golf swing is a thing of true beauty. We can’t move on with the interview, though, without looking back at that incredible week in Rome. Aberg won two points from his four matches, the highlight of which was a foursomes victory in which he and Viktor Hovland dispatched the World No.1, Scottie Scheffler, and Brooks Koepka 9&7. It was a mauling that left Scheffler in tears, although that might have had something to do with where he was with his putting at that stage. 

Surely, even this cool customer was feeling the nerves? “There were a lot of those,” he laughs. “I think however much you try to prepare for the first tee shot, you just really can’t, because it’s so different. We try to simulate it and prepare for it but once you get there and experience it, that’s when it’s so different. I think that was probably the most nerve-wracking moment.”

Rather than put his feet up or bask in the glory of Ryder Cup success, Aberg flew straight back to America, where he narrowly missed out on what would have been his first PGA Tour victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He lost in a five-man play-off before having another crack the following week, where he shot 62 in the final round to finish tied 13th at the Shriners Children’s Open. Then he, perhaps understandably, downed tools. 

Only young once

Playing long stretches isn’t for everyone, certainly not for some of the more established big names who have carefully mapped out schedules. But emerging stars such as Aberg just want to keep playing – and why not? As Aberg says, winning is “kind of addictive”. 

“I know it’s good for me. Almost a little selfishly I knew I wanted to play,” he told reporters on the eve of the Sanderson Farms Championship. “For me to get all these experiences on different golf courses, different tournaments, play as much as I can, I’d like to still think I’m young and I can handle it.”

Handle it he most certainly has. After another top ten at the World Wide Technology Championship in November, he got that maiden PGA Tour title at the RSM Classic. To say ‘finally’ would give the impression that it had been a long hard road, but that was still just his 14th tournament as a professional. He won in some style, too, his pair of 61s on the weekend setting the record for the lowest score over a tournament’s final two rounds.

“Any kid that plays golf is dreaming about winning on the PGA Tour, including myself,” says Aberg. “To actually have a putt on the last hole to do it is absolutely amazing. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. It’s kind of addictive. You just want to do it again, so hopefully we’ll have a few more chances of doing that.” 

ludvig aberg rsm classic

Aberg's maiden PGA Tour title came at the RSM Classic 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He's surely dreaming about doing something special on his Major Championship debut at Augusta National, too. So how are the excitement levels?

“The Masters is one of those events that you’ve watched growing up for such a long time and it’s such a cool place,” he tells me. “Playing all these tournaments where there has been so much history and so many remarkable golf shots that everybody remembers, that’s what gets me going and that’s what makes me excited. I’m really looking forward to it, obviously. I can’t wait to get there.”

Aberg has played Augusta before, once during his freshman year at college. “All I can do is prepare for each event as they come around and, hopefully come Masters week, I’ll have a better idea of what to expect,” he says matter-of-factly. 

As golf’s new superstar, he can expect a great deal of attention when he arrives at Augusta, that’s for sure. He can also expect the name Fuzzy Zoeller to be mentioned quite a lot, and to be reminded that he could be the first player from Sweden to win there, and that no one has won on his debut at this famous venue for 45 years now.

ludvig abery portrait

(Image credit: Adidas)
Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.