Filepic Ludvig Aberg. Credit Getty Images

If the PGA TOUR was in search of the perfect collegian to become the first top graduate in its game-changing pathway to the professional ranks, it struck gold with Ludvig Aberg.

The dynamic 23-year-old from Eslov, Sweden has spent much of his young adult life firmly entrenched in the first position.

Whether it was his stature as the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world or the sweep of trophies (the Ben Hogan, the Jack Nicklaus, the Fred Haskins) that established him as the best college player in America, Aberg was seemingly groomed to be No. 1 in the first-ever PGA TOUR University Velocity Global rankings of college seniors.

That honour earns him a massive prize: Starting with his pro debut at the RBC Canadian Open this week from June 8-11, Aberg has full PGA TOUR membership for the remainder of 2023, an honour that brings with it a projected 14 starts.

In addition, Aberg will earn full membership in 2024, though at that point he is subjected to possible re-shuffles that could impact how many tournaments he gets into.

Still, the takeaway is a rich one, given that what came with the prizes earned by the remainder of the Top 20 in PGA TOUR U were contingencies that they go through the demanding post-season Qualifying Tournament were guarantees are never part of the landscape.

Not so, Aberg. The personable, but supremely focused Swede is in possession of a PGA TOUR card that was always the goal. “It was what I was looking at and keeping my eyes on,” said Aberg, who chose to stay at Texas Tech all four years for a chance at this very prize.

Leaving any earlier would have made him ineligible for the immediate membership. So, yes, while he could have been playing professionally the last few years, Aberg takes enormous pride in not only his business marketing degree from the Lubbock, Texas, school but also the golden prize that was always his focus.

“It’s really cool to be (in this position) with a chance to play well and keep it up. It’s a little bit overwhelming, I’m not going to lie,” said Aberg. “But I know who I am.”

And to study just who this Ludvig Aberg is, one must embrace the surroundings in which he was introduced to the world. Eslov is a town of about 20,000 people in the southern corner of Sweden, but only about 50 miles from Copenhagen, Denmark. His summers warm and sunny, Aberg played golf at Eslov Golf Club with his mother, Mia, and father, Johan, but the challenge came when winters delivered snow and cold.

“You had to get creative,” said Aberg, who often would carry a broom in his golf bag to brush away the snow and hit balls. Less than ideal, but “I always understood what was needed to reach the next level.”

Mentored by his high school coach, Hans Larsson, Aberg blossomed in his third and fourth years and was of a singular mindset. “He told me when he was 16 that he wanted to be a player on the PGA TOUR,” said Mia. “Now, look, he’s almost there.”

What he compiled at Texas Tech is astounding enough – eight wins, including back-to-back Big 12 Championship titles – but to find the key moment in his life, rewind to the teenager’s decision to leave his small town and take on the daunting challenge of another country and a different culture.

“I knew it was going to be different from what I was used to in Sweden,” he told the Texas Tech athletics website about his decision to go to school in America. “But I really thought of it as a great opportunity. I wanted to experience a new culture and compete at a super high level in golf at the same time.”

To appreciate the success of Aberg’s time in Lubbock, consider that his freshman year (2019-20) clashed with the world-wide COVID pandemic. He played well in the fall, but then in March of ’20 Aberg returned to Sweden where he stayed for six months.

So much uncertainty, those days, but it was quite normal in many ways because Sweden was open for much of the pandemic and Aberg’s game stayed sharp. He won twice on the Nordic Golf League during the pandemic of 2020, but that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Aberg had always felt comfortable in the European golf environment.

A member of Sweden’s winning team at the European Amateur in 2019, he had also represented his country at the Junior Golf World Cup and the European Boys’ Championship. When he finished as runner-up at the European Amateur in 2021, Aberg’s spirits were crushed, but not for long.

“He was gifted with the ability to stay in the moment (and shake off the past),” said Texas Tech coach Greg Sands. “He’s been a coach’s dream.”

The dream has already included five starts as an amateur on the PGA TOUR and three others on the DP World Tour. That he made the cut in six of those eight starts bodes well for what is at his doorstep.

“My son is No. 1 (amateur) in the world,” said Johan, shaking his head. “To me, he’s just a kid playing at Eslov Golf Club. It is hard for me to imagine.”

Soon, there will be no reason to imagine or dream about what’s next for the leading graduate of PGA TOUR U. The story will go live at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in Toronto June 8. The college and amateur success packed away for nostalgia, the diploma from Texas Tech and certificate of incomparable achievement from PGA TOUR U filed safely, Aberg will tee it up as a professional.

Better than that, he will be teeing it up as a professional in possession of a PGA TOUR card.

Which brings him to the best part. He is where he always intended to be, playing a game that is magical for one grand reason.

“Everything’s in your own hands,” said Aberg. “You control your own destiny.”

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