OLIVER HOLT: Europe's rising star is ready to take his tilt at stardom

OLIVER HOLT: Europe’s rising star Ludvig Aberg is not as big as Abba, Bjorn Borg or Zlatan Ibrahimovic – not yet – but the youngster is ready to take his tilt at greatness at the Ryder Cup

  • Young Swedish phenomenon Ludvig Aberg is part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team 
  • He is one of a special breed of players that people know will become great
  • The 23-year-old is ready to take his tilt at greatness at the Ryder Cup in Italy

The next of the Great Ones walked into the media marquee at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on Tuesday. Everybody says it. Everybody who knows him. Everybody who has seen him play. Everybody who has seen him strike a ball and heard the way it sounds when it flies away off his club.

It is that way sometimes with the greatest, with the special players. People know, even before they have started their professional careers in earnest. It was that way with LeBron James when he was still a kid in high school. It was that way with Venus Williams.

It was that way with Wayne Rooney, when he was still playing football in the street with his mates after Everton games. And it was that way with Tiger Woods, when he was still at college.

And now it is that way with Ludvig Aberg, the young Swedish phenomenon who has been selected to play in this week’s Ryder Cup just a few months after he turned professional and before he has even competed in a single major tournament.

It is the same with him. Everybody knows.

Ludvig Aberg was selected to play in the Ryder Cup just months after turning professional

Similar to LeBron James, Venus Williams and Tiger Woods, he is that special breed of player that everyone knows will be great before they started their careers in earnest

Someone even asked him how he would cope if he became as famous as Abba. Aberg’s blue eyes twinkled.

‘I would not put myself in the same sentence as Abba,’ he said. ‘All I try to do is play golf and hit as few shots as I can every tournament I play in.’

Aberg, who emerged as a star of the future during a stellar US college career at Texas Tech, and won his first professional title at the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland a few weeks ago, is a master of understatement. Those who have witnessed the breathtaking start to his professional career tend to be more effusive.

‘Europe truly have gold on our hands with this guy,’ Thomas Bjorn, one of Europe’s vice- captains, said of Aberg this week. ‘Some people said that it was a risk picking him but I don’t see any at all.

‘Like Luke Donald said, he’s a generational talent — a genuine world-beater — and we will have no problem throwing him right in the middle of the toughest environment.’

Aberg spoke with the assurance of a veteran when he was ushered into his press conference here. He is 23 but he looks and talks like a man who is not disconcerted by anything. He could not think of anything that makes him angry.

‘I’m a pretty calm guy,’ Aberg said. ‘I don’t get too high. I think that one of the things I do quite well is that, whenever I’m playing golf, I have a pretty high level of acceptance.

‘So, whenever I’m on the golf course, I try to be as good as I can. It is what it is, whatever happened before, and all you can do is try to react to it.’

Aberg is ready to take his tilt at greatness in the upcoming Ryder Cup with Team Europe

There is an ineffable elegance about Aberg. Everything he does — the way he strikes the ball, the way he putts, the way he deals with questions — he seems to be able to do it in first gear, without exerting himself. He is the epitome of grace under pressure.

Aberg was asked a few weeks ago about how he felt about being affectionately nicknamed The Stud by a couple of the senior players on the tour. He was asked about it again on Tuesday. His dismissal of the question was as smooth as hitting an approach shot to three feet.

‘I mean, it’s very flattering for sure,’ Aberg said. ‘But, to be fair, I haven’t thought about it much since we spoke the last time.’

Donald, the European skipper, made a bold choice picking him and he is showing no signs of doubting his choice. He is another who seems in awe of the Swede’s potential. He is another who feels Aberg is destined for greatness.

Aberg was asked how he would handle being as famous as Abba (pictured) in Sweden

Aberg is not as big as Abba, Bjorn Borg (left) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but one day he could be

‘Ludvig certainly came on to my radar at the beginning of the year in Dubai,’ Donald said. ‘He was paired with Edoardo Molinari, one of my vice-captains, and Edoardo was like, “We need to keep an eye on this guy.”

‘When you play with certain players, you can tell. They have a certain talent where you see them hit golf balls and you’re blown away, just by the different strike, the sound, the trajectory. How he can drive a golf ball is very, very impressive.

‘His pedigree is just starting. He’s just getting on his road. He’s just starting to write his history. I think he’s a generational talent.

‘As I’ve said in the media before, I think he’s a very, very strong, strong player and I’m looking forward to seeing him lap up this Ryder Cup experience because it really is an amazing thing to be a part of.’

Not as big as Abba. Not as big as Bjorn Borg. Not as big as Zlatan. Not yet. But ready to take his tilt at greatness.

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