Rory McIlroy says he is at the front of the Ludvig Aberg “bandwagon” as the rising star prepares to make his Ryder Cup debut later this month.
Aberg was hailed as a generational talent by Europe captain Luke Donald after he gave the 23-year-old Swede one of his six wild cards for the upcoming contest against the United States.
The former world No 1 amateur only turned professional in June but won the final qualifying event in Switzerland and will make the quickest transition from the amateur ranks to the Ryder Cup in the contest’s history.
Four-time Major winner McIlroy, in the field for this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, said he had played alongside Aberg in practice at the Ryder Cup venue, near Rome, this week.
World No 2 McIlroy teamed up with Tommy Fleetwood, losing to Aberg and Viktor Hovland.
“I had an opportunity to play with Ludvig for the first time on Monday, which I was excited about,” he said. “I told him I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.”
Asked if Aberg had lived up to his expectations, Mcllroy added: “Probably exceeded them. Everyone talks about what a great driver of the golf ball he is, which he is.
“The ball-striking is incredible. But I was really impressed with his wedge play and how he can sort of control his trajectory with shorter clubs. I was on the bandwagon before and I’m certainly at the front of it now.”
McIlroy partnered Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter, twice, in the last Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in 2021, but lost all three matches.
He beat Xander Schauffele in the opening singles on the final day but Europe crashed to a humiliating 19-9 defeat.
The 34-year-old, who was left out of a session for the first time since making his debut in 2010, talked of the pain of the defeat.
“We’re not used to playing for other people in this game, and you go out there and you’re playing for your teammates, you want to do well for them,” he said.
“I felt like I didn’t do that and I felt like I didn’t give a good account of myself and that stung and the scoreline stung.”
The Ryder Cup takes place at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club from 29 September to 1 October.
© Agence France-Presse