He has yet to play in a Grand Slam tournament and is ranked 80th in the world, but Aberg is perhaps the most anticipated player among the twenty-four participating in the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup on the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club course.

"If someone had told me just a few months ago that I would be here to play in the Ryder Cup, I wouldn't have believed them. It's a dream come true," he acknowledged, still incredulous, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The Swede is a phenomenon, "a talent like one in a generation," said European team captain Luke Donald.

The Englishman, veteran of the 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012 campaigns, all won by Europe against the United States, did not hesitate to select him after being alerted to Aberg's potential in January by Italian Edoardo Molinari.

Sweden's Ludwig Aberg in training ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup, as Spain's Jon Rahm looks on September 26, 2023, near Rome © Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

World Amateur N.1

"We have to keep an eye on him," said Molinari, one of the vice-captains of the European team, who played the first two rounds of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai in the same game as the Swede.

Aberg was then 3064th in the world rankings and by Donald's own admission, "his odds for him to play in the Ryder Cup were really very high".

But the native of Eslov, in southern Sweden, doesn't come from nowhere.

Gone to the United States to play under the colors of Texas Tech, Aberg (1.91 m, 86 kg) was elected best university player two years in a row in 2022 and 2023 and ended his amateur career with the status of world N.1, like before him the Spaniard Jon Rahm, one of the major assets of the European team in Rome.

But it was his first steps on the North American (PGA) and especially European (DP World Tour) professional tours that earned him his selection, including his 4th place in the Czech Masters at the end of August and his victory in the European Masters at the beginning of September, to the detriment of more established players such as the Frenchman Victor Perez.

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg at a press conference before the 4th edition of the Ryder Cup on September 26 near Rome © Andreas SOLARO / AFP

"I just tried to play well ... What I have experienced in recent months is very strong, but also very cool, I try to make the most of it, "insisted Aberg, turned pro in June and immediately dredged, without success, by the dissident circuit LIV.

An ice cream for a course

His budding legend is that as a teenager, the young Swede was no more interested in golf than that and that his father had to promise him an ice cream to convince him to finish his training courses.

Aberg's passion has long been football and it is on the picturesque course of Marco Simone, unrelated to the former Italian striker of AC Milan and Paris SG, in a football stadium atmosphere, that he will try to offer the Ryder Cup to Europe, two years after the victory of the United States (19 to 9) at Whistling Straits, in Wisconsin.

It takes more to disrupt the phenomenon that will be surrounded by 5,000 excited spectators when it appears on hole N.1 Thursday.

"I'd like to say I'm never nervous, but anyone who plays golf has to deal with that stress," he said.

But his teammates, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the lead ("His ball strikes are incredible"), do not doubt for a second that he will be present.

"With Ludvig, there are never too high and too low, he is very balanced. He will show this week that he is with his clubs," warned Luke Donald.

© 2023 AFP