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Aberg backs up hype to finish 2nd at Masters in his 1st major

David Cannon / David Cannon Collection / Getty

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Rory McIlroy has insisted for quite some time that Ludvig Aberg is poised to become a huge star in golf.

The world found out why on Sunday.

Aberg, a Swede who entered the Masters ranked ninth in the world at age 24 less than a year after turning pro, hung with No. 1 player in the world for the better part of 72 holes before Scottie Scheffler pulled away on the back nine to secure his second green jacket with a four-shot victory.

Aberg finished second at 7-under 281 despite never having played a competitive round on the slick Augusta National greens — or in any major championship — before Thursday.

“Everyone in my position, they are going to want to be major champions,” Aberg said. “They are going to want to be world No. 1's. And it’s the same for me, that’s nothing different. I think this week solidifies a lot of those things are there, and we just need to keep doing those things and put ourselves in positions to win tournaments.”

If casual fans didn't know Aberg before Sunday, they do now.

He has an infectious smile and nothing seemed to bother him all week as he navigated an unfamiliar course. Even when a fan accidently knocked a protein bar out of his hand when he first-bumped him while making the turn at 10, Aberg just kept on smiling.

Golf stresses him out, so he counters it with positivity.

Like when Aberg, in a four-way tie for the lead, sent his approach shot on the par-4 11th into the water on the left side of the green, leading to a double bogey.

That might have crushed some players.

But he quickly put it behind him, battling back to make birdie on 13 and 14 to briefly pull back within two shots of Scheffler. But Scheffler made another birdie and hit too many good shots down the stretch for Aberg to have any hope of a comeback.

Aberg said he isn't going to beat himself up over the iron shot at 11, one that he said he simply started too far to the left, caught the wind and carried into the pond.

“Obviously it wasn’t ideal, but I felt like me and my team, we’ve focused a lot on just keep playing no matter what happens,” Aberg said. “If you just keep playing, skills are going to show up. I think once you stop playing, that’s when the skills are not showing up.”

As Aberg pointed out, it was one of the few bad shots he hit all week.

After opening with a 73 on Thursday, he played the final three rounds in 8 under. He hit 79% of his fairways and 61% of greens in regulation.

“This being my first major championship, you never really know what it’s going to be like until you’re there and experience it,” Aberg said. “I think this week has given me a lot of experiences and a lot of lessons learned in terms of those things. It makes me really hungry, and it makes me want to do it again and again.”

It wasn't until after the round, when Aberg saw his family and his girlfriend, that he let his emotions out.

“When you're playing Augusta, you can’t really put your guard down,” Aberg said. “You have to stay focused all the time. I think once you hole out your last putt on 18 you can kind of breathe a little bit and that’s what I did.”

As for McIlroy's repeated praise, Aberg is trying to take in stride.

“Well, it’s very flattering,” Aberg said. “To me, it just tells me that we are doing some good things, me and my team, and we’re probably not going to change a whole lot. But obviously hearing those things from Rory and those guys is very, very encouraging.”


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