Ludvig Aberg overcomes nerves to make an impressive start at Wentworth

The young Swede, who is part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team, carded an opening round of 68

Phil Casey
Thursday 14 September 2023 17:24 BST
Ludvig Aberg finished the first round on 69 (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Ludvig Aberg finished the first round on 69 (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg overcame his nerves and a “stupid” double bogey to make an impressive start to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Playing alongside Ryder Cup team-mates Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, Aberg carded five birdies in a row on the back nine before hitting his tee shot out of bounds on the par-five 17th.

However, the 23-year-old responded with a birdie on the last to card an opening four-under-par 68, with Hovland returning a 69 and McIlroy struggling to a level-par 72.

“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, but playing with Rory and Viktor was a lot of fun.”

Aberg only turned professional in June after a stellar amateur career, but won the final Ryder Cup qualifying event in Switzerland and was given a wild card by Europe captain Luke Donald the following day.

McIlroy declared on Wednesday that he was now at the front of the Aberg “bandwagon” after partnering him in a practice round in Rome two days earlier, while Hovland joined Justin Rose in labelling him a “stud”.

“The way he’s played the last couple of months, he has not been a pro very long but he certainly doesn’t look scared of the moment,” Hovland said. “I think this week is a great experience for him but I think he’s ready regardless.”

Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde held the clubhouse lead on eight under par after carding 10 birdies and two bogeys in a 64, while defending champion Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood both shot 69.

“I got off to a great start, three under through seven, and a couple of bogeys around the turn wasn’t great, but I think the course is playing a little bit more difficult this year,” Lowry said.

“There’s a lot more rough and it’s a little bit firmer so three under is not a bad score.”

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