Ludvig Aberg lived up to his billing as golf’s next superstar as the Swedish sensation made an impressive start at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
Aberg has earned admirers across the golf world after bursting onto the scene this year.
The 23-year-old, who only turned professional in June, was given a European Ryder Cup wild card hours after winning the final qualifying event.
A day after Rory McIlroy declared himself firmly on board the Aberg “bandwagon”, the rising star out-shone the world No 2 and FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland during the first round at Wentworth.
Aberg carded a four-under-par 68 despite a double-bogey on the 17th, while Hovland returned a 69 and McIlroy struggled to a level-par 72.
Aberg made five consecutive birdies from the 11th and also birdied the last after running up a seven on the 17th, where he pulled his drive out of bounds.
“The 17th was a little bit stupid but other than that I felt like I hit the ball great and gave myself a few chances, especially on the back nine where it’s a little bit more scoreable,” Aberg said.
“Overall, I’m really happy with the way I played. I was very nervous this morning, it would have been weird if I wasn’t, and there were a lot more people following me round than usual.
“But playing with Rory and Viktor was a lot of fun. To be walking down the fairway with them and having conversations has been pretty cool. I am proud of the way I handled that, playing good golf with so much going on and I am trying to keep that up.”
Hovland was full of praise for his Ryder Cup teammate, echoing Justin Rose’s praise of the former world No 1 amateur.
“The way he’s played the past couple of months, he has not been a pro very long but he certainly doesn’t look scared of the moment,” the world No 4 said. “I think this week is a great experience for him but I think he’s ready regardless.
“When you have the tools, it is easy to trust it. He’s obviously very mature and you just step up and do it. He’s super talented and he is going to be around a long time. He’s going to do great things.”
Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde holds the clubhouse lead on eight under par after carding 10 birdies and two bogeys in a 64, with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay sharing second on six under.
South Africa’s Louis de Jager is on three under (T21) thru 17, with Zander Lombard on two under and Thriston Lawrence one under.
© Agence France-Presse