How ‘intimidating’ Ryder Cup selection propelled Ludvig Aberg on stellar year-end run

When Ludvig Aberg was selected as the final captain’s pick for the European Ryder Cup team last year, he was put into a group chat with many of the game’s biggest stars.

Rory McIlroy. Jon Rahm. Viktor Hovland.

Problem is, he had no idea whose number was whose in the team group chat.

He had only Nicolai Hojgaard’s and Sepp Straka’s numbers.

“None of the other guys,” Aberg said.

The 24-year-old Swede’s rise has been meteoric. A year ago, he was playing in college for Texas Tech. Now, he’s one of the game’s brightest young stars and in the field at the season-opening The Sentry at Kapalua in Hawaii. Formerly known as the Tournament of Champions, the event is reserved for those who won on the PGA Tour in the previous year or finished in the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings.

The Sentry: Photos | Thursday tee times

Aberg didn’t get his PGA Tour card until May, making his first start at the RBC Canadian Open. In between then and now, he has won on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and has been a part of the victorious European Ryder Cup team.

And it was Aberg’s selection to the latter that helped show him he belonged on the biggest stage.

“It was definitely intimidating,” Aberg said Wednesday of being a captain’s pick. “If I said it wasn’t, I would be lying because it is what you want to do, but it’s also quite nerve-racking at times. I think I did it quite well, just to be OK with it being intimidating and nerve-racking. I was just being OK with all the emotions that might show up and I didn’t try to fight it, I didn’t try to block it out, it was just try to embrace it and obviously have a lot of fun as well.”

His win in the Omega European Masters solidified his spot on the Ryder Cup squad. Then, he closed his rookie PGA Tour season going 61-61 on the weekend to win the RSM Classic.

Now, expectations are high for Aberg, who’s excited for his first appearance at Kapalua.

“I think there’s always going to be expectations, it’s kind of what you sign up for in professional sports,” Aberg said. “So I do understand that it is a part of it, but I’m always going to have a lot of expectations on myself as well. I know my qualities and I know what I want to do, so if I don’t live up to that, I’m going to be pissed myself.”

“So obviously I understand all the things, the outside noise, but that’s also nothing that I can really control. It is what it is and all I can try to do is play each tournament the best I can and then kind of see where that goes.”

With a win this week, Aberg would move into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

As far as his expectations this year, he’s looking forward to playing many of the famed courses on the PGA Tour’s schedule.

“We were looking at the schedule the other week, and it’s just one tournament after another that I’m like, ‘Whoa, I just want to play it,'” Aberg said. “Bay Hill, Players, Pebble, Genesis, I think that’s what I’m really looking forward to. Obviously you want to perform, and I’m a competitor, so I want to compete, but I don’t have like a set number or something like that that I’m looking toward.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek