Ludvig Aberg had a decision to make after his freshman year at Texas Tech.
He had two options: return to Lubbock for his senior season or turn professional and risk no status on any major tours.
For Aberg, then 22, the choice was an easy one.
“Lubbock is my second home and I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else in the past two years,” Aberg told GolfChannel.com. “So obviously love the people, love the coaches, love my teammates and you know whenever I go back there it feels like home.”
The moment Aberg made his decision, he knew he would have a chance to break into the PGA Tour U rankings in his final season under head coach Greg Sands. What he – and everyone else – didn’t know was how much the PGA Tour U would evolve as he spent another year on campus.
Following the 2022 National Championship, the top five players in the PGA Tour U rankings were awarded Korn Ferry Tour membership for the remainder of the season and were exempt from all open and full-field KFT events beginning the week after the end of the college golf season. in Grayhawk. They were also exempt from the final stage of that year’s KFT Qualification Tournament.
Not bad, right?
Still, it didn’t leave an immediate path for the best college golfer to go straight to the PGA Tour, and it didn’t reward the No. 1 player any differently than the guy who rounded out the top 5.
That changed in the fall when the Tour announced that the #1 player on the PGA Tour U would be rewarded with a PGA Tour Card and was further reinforced in early May when the Tour revealed that it is expanding that reward to include an extra season. complete. of PGA Tour status. Therefore, this year’s #1 player after the NCAA championship will earn a Tour card for the remainder of 2023 and 2024, playing in the same category as Korn Ferry Tour and DP World Tour point winners while subject to reshuffles.
As the No. 1 player would retain his PGA Tour status the following year, that player would not need to compete in the PGA Tour Q-School at the end of the first year.
“I think everyone jumped for joy when they saw it,” Aberg said. “I think it will be very, very beneficial for college golf in general. And I think it’s only going to get better. Because now there is an incentive to stay in school. There is, you know, a clear path to the PGA Tour through college, which is amazing. I think they did a tremendous job.”
Coach Sands, who watched Aberg transition from a talented young schoolboy in Helsingborg, Sweden, to arguably the best men’s college golf to offer, was thrilled for his star player and praised how well his veteran leader handled the pressure of holding that first place.
“Well, it’s awesome for college golf,” Sands said. “It’s an unbelievable carrot at the end of the stick, if you will, a reward for two great years of golf. And really, I’m so glad he made the decision to stay here and I knew he was going to be leading this and he’s really played really well all year dealing with the noise of the future and the noise of the PGA Tour U and so you couldn’t ask for more professionalism. . He just handled it amazingly.
To say Aberg handled the pressure well would be an understatement. The Texas Tech leader elevated his game over his final college season to a level that left no doubt as to which player deserves an immediate ascent to the Tour.
In three matches leading up to the national championships at Grayhawk, Aberg was undefeated.
His run began in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he defended his Big 12 Championship at Prairie Dunes with a resounding eight-shot victory.
He followed up that performance with a one-shot victory in Odessa, Texas, in local US Open qualifying, which preceded the NCAA Regionals, where Aberg hit fade after fade on Jimmie Austin in Norman, Okla., to eclipse a pair of Sooners in your course home and lead your team back to Grayhawk.
Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl has watched the Aberg closely over the past two seasons and has praised the Red Raider’s talent and mentality on the golf course.
“He hits the ball as well as anybody. His putter is as good as anyone. Your chipping is as good as anyone’s. And he acts like a 35-year-old man out there,” Hybl said. “So I would say, overall, he kind of has all the pieces. Pretty much the Megatron you’d want, that’s more or less what he looks like.
“And he’s just chill on the golf course, which I think is fun to watch him play too. Kind of reminds a little of Ernie Els. The game just doesn’t look very difficult. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s very impressive.”
Aberg held a 74-point lead over North Carolina’s Austin Greaser in the PGA Tour U standings on Feb.st. Their lead is now over 260 points towards the national championship, which is greater than the difference between 2nd and 21st.
As if Aberg wasn’t playing well enough in his last collegiate event, he shot a 13-under 59 on the eve of the nationals.
He’s certainly making the most of his final days before turning pro. Aberg received the Ben Hogan Award on Monday for the second consecutive season, becoming only the second player to win the award in consecutive seasons. The other guy? Jon Rahm.
Success at the end of the season left the Swede looking forward to playing one last time at Grayhawk.
“I can’t wait, to be honest,” Aberg said. “That’s what we play for, the championships. I would love to win a national championship, both individually and as a team. I hope you know, in terms of preparation, very similar to any tournament you play. You just try to stick to your game plan, and yeah, I can’t wait.
If Aberg can back up his Big 12 and NCAA regional wins with an individual national championship, not only will he have a Tour card through 2024, he’ll also be exempt from the 2023 US Open and 2024 Masters, giving him even more opportunities to advance your professional career.
Exemptions to these two majors for the NCAA champion were announced earlier this year, and Coach Hybl loves the recognition top collegiate players are getting from the pro ranks.
“I always think it’s phenomenal when our players continue to be noticed as the next elite players in the game of golf,” said Hybl. “So I think it’s a special moment for the college game. You know, we’ve discussed over the years how many different opportunities maybe our guys should have and it’s starting to happen… So fair enough, it’s very deserving. These are the next generation of great golfers.”
As exciting as the future is for Aberg, it spells the end of a collegiate career that saw him grow from an accomplished prospect to a rising star.
It means leaving your “second home” and making the transition to professional life.
Aberg tried to put into words the emotion of the “last ones”: his last Big 12 Championship, his last regional and now, his last NCAA championship, as he finished his degree and prepared for the next stage in life.
“It’s a little complicated,” Aberg said. “I do want to say though that I was a little overwhelmed, not going to lie because a lot is going on. And at the same time, I also want my school to be really good. I wanted to get a degree. That’s one of the reasons I came to college because I wanted to finish my education. So there’s a lot to balance.
“I hope I can come back and I hope they have me in the years to come as well. And you know, Coach Sands helped me, he gave me so many opportunities to be able to be in the position I am and I’m very grateful for that. I hope we can win a championship national to end my career too”.
Championship or not, it’s safe to say Aberg will be welcome in Lubbock any day now.