Ryder Cup star played golf in snow and hit balls through ropes before rapid rise

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Only golf’s most studious followers know much about Ludvig Aberg heading into Friday’s Ryder Cup in Rome, but by Monday there is every chance that he will have become a household name in the space of a weekend. The 23-year-old Swede only turned professional in June but European captain Luke Donald has not included the rookie in his 12-man team that will take on the USA for no reason.

Before turning pro, Aberg was the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world. He now plays on the PGA Tour but after returning to Europe in a bid to earn Ryder Cup qualification points he has already lifted his first professional title at the European Masters.

It’s no wonder that the likes of Donald and team talisman Rory McIlroy are already getting excited about what this rising star could achieve.

Aberg, who claims to be a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter, got his proper golfing education in the States at Texas Tech University. He won the prestigious Ben Hogan Award – which is bestowed on the best collegiate player in the US – in both 2022 and 2023. Jon Rahm is the only other person ever to have won the award twice.

But before he started blazing a trail in America, Aberg developed his craft for the sport in his Swedish home town at the Eslov Golf Club. Conditions in this sleepy part of Scandinavia could hardly be any more different to those in Texas.

A video interview shot for the PGA Tour YouTube channel shows exactly what type of conditions Aberg had been dealing with. Returning to his boyhood golf club, the course is completely covered in a blanket of snow, but that is not going to stop him from playing.

Whilst back in Sweden, Aberg keeps an unusual extra item in his bag – a yard brush for clearing snow off the greens and fairways.

“You’ve got to be a little creative with your practice. When the snow’s powdery you can always use a broomstick so I keep it in my bag. The biggest challenge is probably to get the tee in the ground.

“It’s harder to do than normal practice. Putting is really hard obviously, but at the end of the day it is what it is and you’ve just got to figure it out. I’ve never been anywhere else. When I’m home this is where I play and practice.”

Aberg’s father had encouraged him to play at the club as a child, bribing him with the offer of ice cream in order to get his son to stay on the course for longer. It worked as before long the youngster had hit the first hole in one of his life at the 13th hole at Eslov.

But playing conditions in Sweden don’t lend themselves to a year-round golfing season. The winter snow was the least of Aberg’s worries. His biggest obstacle was geographical – a lack of light.

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With Scandinavia barely seeing the sun in the colder months like January, a different approach is required. Aberg would attend a modest indoor centre in Helsingborg where his swing coach would deploy a unique method for perfecting his technique.

At the centre, which resembles a school gym hall, players practice hitting the ball into a net with vertical ropes suspended from the ceiling. Aberg used the ropes to gauge his accuracy and develop his swing to keep the ball on its intended flight path.

“You can’t see where the ball is flying but you can see where the ball starts. We do drills where you get points if you’re inside the ropes. It’s super creative.”

Since moving to Texas the facilities Aberg has benefited from to develop his game have undoubtedly improved, but his humble grounding in Sweden has set him up to tackle any challenge that he might face.

Appearing in a Ryder Cup before playing in a major is new ground for the sport but Europe and the USA will find out soon enough if Donald’s bold wildcard pick was an inspired decision.

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