Luke Donald’s former team-mate has urged Europe’s captain to pick “The Assassin” Ludvig Aberg as a wildcard for next month’s Ryder Cupdespite the rookie having only completed seven events in the professional ranks.
Aberg shot a six-under 66 on Friday to move to 10-under and into contention at the halfway point in the Czech Masters, the penultimate tournament in the qualifying race for the match in Rome. The 23-year-old would not break into the automatic top six in the standings, even if he were to win Prague on Sunday and then at the European Masters next weekend.
But after getting off to a fine start to his PGA Tour career – having joined the paid ranks in June – Aberg is well aware that a couple of impressive performances could force Anders’ hand.
Phil Rowe, who played with Donald in the victorious Walker Cup team in 1999, knows Aberg had captained him in the Palmer Cup in Europe’s victory over the USA three years ago and believes the former world amateur world no. would prove to be a great asset to the home. team as they try to prevent the Americans from winning on European soil for the first time in 30 years.
Rowe – who beat Matt Kuchar three times in the famous victory in Georgia 24 years ago – is sure Aberg would take it easy.
“You could say it’s a big step up to play in the Ryder Cup from the Palmer Cup and in the college comps, but he emulated Jon Rahm in winning Ben Hogan back-to-back on that circuit and has gone to these major Tour -tournaments with the cool customer manner he has,” Rowe, a famous coach at Californiatold Telegraph Sport.
“I love how he carries himself and what a player he is in the pressure situations. He is careful, keeps a diary where he records every round and lifts those around him. I think Luke will see this too in him. Ludvig is mature, calm, but absolutely the killer on the pitch.”
Anders has already admitted that he is considering Aberg for a record-breaking appearance and that he has been “tracking Ludvig for about a year”. No golfer has played in the biennial dust before with only three months of professional experience under his belt, but such are Aberg’s talents that Anders – who has previously compared the Swede’s potential with Rory McIlroy’s – suspects he could flourish on the most intimidating golf courses.
“He’s a great driver of the ball — that’s a real weapon,” said Donald, who asked Rocket Mortgage Classic organizers to be in the same group as Aberg in July. “I played with him and he’s long, straight, with a nice little draw that seems to find the middle of the fairway every time. He is also fast. don’t mess around. I think he shot 12-under in the two rounds I played with him. Very impressive. I’m sure he’ll have a great career.”
But will The Eternal City come too soon for this Liverpool fan? For his part, Aberg feels ready to at least make Anders’ job difficult for the next fortnight. The overwhelming feeling on Tour is that Scotland’s Bob Macintyre and Austrian Sepp Straka are heavy favorites to join the deadlocked octet of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry , leaving Anders with maybe two spots to fill when he names his six wildcards a week on Monday.
Adrian Meronk looks likely as the Pole had won on the Marco Simone layout in May, but second place is up in the air. Aberg obviously did no harm with this round – with seven birdies and a bogey – and his comments suggested he knew as much.
“I try to take it for what it is,” Aberg said after being asked about the Ryder Cup subplot. “I’m going to have pretty high expectations of myself, regardless of what the situation is – as a competitor, that’s how it should be. But I have to have fun with it.”