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Not Your Ordinary Rookie

Masters 2024: Why Ludvig Aberg is a Masters rookie with a few major caveats

April 09, 2024
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Ludvig Aberg with veteran caddie Joe Skovron at the 2024 Players Championship.

Kevin C. Cox

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ludvig Aberg made history in September when he became the first golfer to play in a Ryder Cup before playing in a major championship. Now at his first major, he's got a good chance to etch his name in Augusta National's record books for a different reason. Not that the 24-year-old Swede was aware of that fact on Tuesday.

"I actually didn't know that stat up until just now, so I guess not," when asked if he was aware that Fuzzy Zoeller is the lone rookie to win the Masters since the beginning years of the tournament. "But, yeah, I mean, I think that speaks to the difficulty of the golf course and the difficulty of some of the things that you might get thrown at you in the tournament. But I can't really do a whole lot about that."

But he can change that stat that most hardcore Masters fans know forever. That's because Aberg is no ordinary Masters rookie.

Sure, he'll be teeing it up in competition for the first time come Thursday, but this is his third trip to Augusta National. The first of which was a Texas Tech team trip in 2020 a couple weeks before COVID shut the world down and the second was a scouting mission a couple weeks ago.

"Obviously the things that I've been working on quite a lot is the uneven lies that you get here," Aberg said. "You're going to get a lot of ball below your feet, ball above your feet, all those sort of things, and trying to keep it on the correct sides. So I think we did a lot of those things."

The "we" is the next interesting part of Aberg's unique situation. He's got caddie Joe Skovron, a veteran of many Masters with Rickie Fowler, on his bag. The two started working together in December. And Aberg has Peter Hanson, who finished T-3 at the 2012 Masters.

"Peter's just helped me a lot with short game in general and trying to get a more deeper understanding of what happens when you do this, what happens when you do that," Aberg continued. "Because it's very, very logical. And I think with his help I've just become more eager to learn about it, I think. It's fun to hit nice bunker shots. It's fun to hit flop shots and those things. So I think he's just been an all-around great teacher in short game."

Not surprisingly, Aberg counts that 2012 tournament as his most vivid Masters memory growing up. Hanson was the 54-hole leader before shooting a Sunday 73 to finish two shots out of the playoff between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen.

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Ludvig Aberg with coach and mentor Peter Hanson, a man familiar with being in Masters contention on Sunday.

Matthew Lewis/R&A

"The one year that I definitely remember watching a lot of it was when Peter was—I think it was 2012—when he was playing in the final group," Aberg said. "And, I mean, obviously I didn't know him at the time, and it's pretty cool to that I've gotten to know him quite well over the last couple years, and he's been telling me stories."

Of course, again, the most important part of Aberg's particular situation is that he's just really freaking good for a Masters rookie. After turning pro last June, he's already won on both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in addition to being a member of Europe's winning squad at the Ryder Cup. Not many Masters rookies arrive at Augusta National at No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

He's getting plenty of respect from oddsmakers as well. Aberg is currently listed at 30-to-1 to won on DraftKings, drawing shorter odds than guys like Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay.

"Yeah, it's a tricky balance because obviously I'm feeling all the first-time feelings that everyone's feeling, but I'm also trying to be okay with all those things coming at me at the same time. Because I think once you start fighting it, once you start trying to push it away, I think that's when it becomes tricky," Aberg said. "So I guess all I'm trying to do is just embrace all the nerves and all the excitement that I feel and at the same time know my capabilities and know my qualities and know that that's probably going to be good enough to compete. I can't make any promises, but I'll definitely make sure that, coming Thursday, I'll be as prepared as I can."

As a first-timer, you also might see him walking around the property with bags of merchandise.

"Oh, yeah, I've had multiple friends text me and ask me to get some stuff. I'm trying to get all that done before the tournament starts and before it gets really busy," Aberg said before flashing a smile the golf world has become very familiar with in the past year. "But I'm sure I'm going to get myself a hat as well."

He might just get a certain jacket to go with it as well come Sunday evening.

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