Ludvig Åberg Patiently Put In the Time and Work It Took to Earn His PGA Tour Card While on the Texas Tech Men’s Golf Team
Ludvig Åberg set his golf ball on the tee in front of dozens of viewers lined behind rope barriers, plus thousands more watching the nationally televised 2023 RBC Canadian Open in June.
He stepped back, took a practice swing and stared down the fairway.
This was it.
Åberg's demeanor – calm, composed and focused – masked how much he anticipated that very moment.
“From Eslov, Sweden, please welcome Ludvig Åberg,” announced the starter, followed by a brief round of applause and cheers. Viewers watching from home heard the commentator follow up with, “Welcome to the show, kid.”
With those introductions Åberg teed off, debuting as a member of the PGA Tour.
“Being a PGA Tour member is something I've dreamt about for a very long time,” he said. “It was literally the week after we finished playing nationals, so I didn't have too much time to get nervous for it.”
During the NCAA Men's Golf Championship in May 2023, Åberg led the Texas Tech University men's golf team to a 16th-place finish. Even more exciting, by the end of the tournament, he was named the No. 1 player in the final 2023 PGA Tour University Rankings – earning a PGA Tour membership card.
He became the first collegiate golfer to achieve the feat.
“It was a little bit unreal, to be fair,” Åberg said. “I mean, college golf is what I've done for years now. That's what I know.”
Thankfully, all of Åberg's teammates and his coach were beside him, cheering him on in that surreal moment.
“Walking up the last fairway and the last hole, it was a strange feeling knowing my career would be over at Texas Tech,” he admitted. “Luckily, I have other things to look forward to in the future. It's not over just yet.”
It's actually just the beginning for Åberg, who intends on taking advantage of his new opportunities and engaging his love to compete: a passion that began long ago, far away.
First Swings in Sweden
Åberg grew up in the small town of Eslov with his parents and older sister.
From a young age, his athletic ability was apparent as he played several different sports – his favorite, soccer. It was Åberg's dad who kept taking him to the golf course, sometimes bribing him with ice cream.
“I've seen pictures when I was pretty small with the plastic clubs,” Åberg recalled, “but it took me a little while to like it more.”
The problem was Sweden's short golf season of about four summer months. Playing in the winter likely meant carrying a broom to sweep away snow from the course.
It wasn't until Åberg became a teenager that he began to view golf as a game worth waiting for.
“When I started playing more tournaments, I understood it was something I enjoyed doing and it was also something I was pretty good at,” he said. “That's how it started.”
Åberg even noticed other perks of golf versus soccer that aligned with his personal preferences.
“Everything is in your own hands, so I can't really hide from anything,” he said. “I don't need to rely on anyone else. It's all on me, and if I want to get better at something, I need to practice to improve myself.”
By the time Åberg was 16, he knew he wanted to apply to the national sports high school golf program about 40 miles from his hometown.
Unfortunately, his admission was denied.
“I wasn't good enough, basically,” Åberg admitted. “So, I went to a normal high school for one year.”
Åberg did not give in to the sense of defeat during those 365 days. Clubs in hand, he kept practicing.
“I'm a competitor,” he explained. “I want to compete. I try to prepare as well as I can and then take advantage of the opportunities.”
His persistence paid off. Åberg was accepted the next year and met lifelong friends plus his swing coach, Hans Larsson, who has influenced his techniques ever since.
“We work on the same things over and over,” Åberg said. “It's mainly just keeping things very simple.”
Together, over the next four years, they built the foundation of his golf game with the help of an indoor practice facility.
His improvement led to invitations to play in junior tournaments in Europe, where he met Texas Tech men's golf head coach Greg Sands.
“We're looking for guys that want to work hard and push themselves,” Sands said. “You can't really get better unless you want to work hard and have a passion for the game.”
Sands could tell Åberg fit that profile, and the respect was mutual.
“He entered the picture really well and he made an impression on me,” Åberg said, “He was very serious and professional, which I liked. But there were all these (NCAA) rules that I couldn't start talking to him until a certain date.”
Before long, that date arrived and Åberg faced a choice he said most of his classmates also had to make: go to college in America, or turn pro.
While Åberg definitely aspired to play golf professionally, he wanted to be realistic with himself.
“I realized I wasn't good enough when I finished high school and that I wasn't going to make it as a pro,” he said. “So, I felt like I needed a few more years to improve.”
Recruited as a Red Raider
With Coach Sands still on Åberg's mind, they began to message back and forth. He also began to be recruited by two Swedish members of the Texas Tech men's golf team who gave him inside information about the university, golf program and life in Lubbock.
After a couple of visits to campus, they no longer had to sell Texas Tech to Åberg.
“It was a no-brainer for me to come over because you can get an education and play a lot of great courses against really good competition,” Åberg said. “And for me, what stood out was the people: the coaches, the coaching staff and everyone is so involved and really cares.”
By the fall of 2019, Åberg stepped onto the Texas Tech campus ready to explore the next chapter of his life. He chose to major in business marketing with the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business.
“I felt like marketing was different from the economics I picked to study in high school,” he said. “I thought it was really fun and exciting to learn more about branding and different advertising opportunities.”
Åberg won't lie – he was a little uncomfortable at first, acclimating to a new country that primarily spoke his secondary language.
Even the golf course, a place so familiar to him, served up culture shock to Åberg. There was a higher standard to meet, and the competition was fiercer, but Åberg was up for the challenge.
“It was fun to see where I stood and how I could find different ways to improve my game,” he remembered.
With time, Åberg said he became “more mature and outgoing” as he began to settle into his new routine. It was not always easy to balance his golf and classwork duties, but thankfully, he had support.
“The Rawls College is a great part of Texas Tech,” he said. “They provide a lot of help for students. I've had a busy schedule, being in and out of the classroom and traveling a lot. But teachers have been very accommodating and understanding about my situation. It shows they actually care about the person and not just your grade.”
Teamwork at Texas Tech
It also helped Åberg to feel like he was not alone. He had teammates who juggled a similar workload and kept each other accountable.
That's what he truly began to like most about college: the transition from a solo player to a teammate.
“I always had so many guys that I could hang out with and go play or practice with,” he said. “I think a college environment is so special, where you get to spend a lot of time together and travel pretty much the whole country with your friends.”
One of his favorite memories became the 2022 Big 12 Men's Match Play Tournament at Houston Oaks Country Club in Hockley, Texas.
“We ended up beating OU in the final to win the tournament,” he said. “Everyone was just cheering for each other – with your teammates rooting for you, and you rooting for your teammates.”
Åberg not only bonded with his teammates, but Coach Sands, who went out of his way to show he cared about Åberg much more than as just a player on a roster.
Åberg will never forget the most influential moment they shared.
“There was one season he walked with me for a lot of rounds,” Åberg said. “He always made me feel like I was a better player than maybe I was, which to me is a pretty good testament to a coach. He made me believe I was good, even though I wasn't believing that myself sometimes.”
Sands gets emotional when realizing the impact that moment made on Åberg.
“I think deep inside himself, I helped him unlock a little bit of that, ‘Hey, I've got to believe in myself right now. I can't keep waiting to have that show up. I need to learn how to do that from the start to the end,'” Sands said. “So, I'm flattered that he's given me any credit. The truth is, the kid was pretty easy and a dream to coach because you could just point him in the right direction and things were going to be pretty good.”
While Åberg needed words of affirmation, another phrase constantly preached by Sands – time and pressure – came naturally to him.
“I don't get too high, and I don't get too low,” Åberg said. “I'm a pretty neutral and patient person. I think it's easy because I know what I want, and if that doesn't align with where I'm at, it's pretty easy to make decisions.”
Åberg specifically leaned on those instincts when he was presented with his first opportunity to turn pro in 2022.
He was transported back to his pre-high-school days, reminding himself his ability was not there just yet.
“It was easy for me to say, ‘I want to get better,'” he said. “That's my goal. If I'm not there, I need some more time to improve and develop.”
In the time Åberg dedicated to his college career, he established 12 program records and transformed into the Big 12 Player of the Year. He became only the seventh player in history to sweep the National Player of the Year Awards, winning the Ben Hogan Award (twice), Fred Haskins and Jack Nicklaus honors.
Last – but certainly not least – he was the first to earn his PGA Tour membership card by winning the PGA Tour U.
“When I look back at what kind of player I was a year ago compared to now, I think I'm a better player,” Åberg said. “I do things a little bit different than I did back then. It was a good learning experience to be able to handle stuff outside of the golf course, as well as playing on the golf course.”
Åberg describes his emotions as “over the moon” to have status on the PGA Tour. Admittedly, a little nostalgia also was mixed in as he reflected on his time as a Red Raider – like the camaraderie he felt while sharing a golf cart with his teammates during his last college match.
“I owe a lot to Texas Tech,” he said. “Everything the athletic department has done not only for me, but for our whole program has been unbelievable. For me to take advantage of all these opportunities has been unbelievable to me.”
Primed to go Pro
Åberg walked away from campus with new and improved skills and confidence, eager to take on the best in the world.
But he wasn't ready to leave Lubbock, his home away from home, just yet.
“I have created relationships and built special bonds with people here,” he said. “That's why I chose to come back here and that's why I still live here. The people are so friendly, and every time I come back, I feel welcomed.”
Åberg appreciates how Texas Tech fandom follows him almost anywhere he plays professionally, whether Red Raiders spot the Double T on his golf bag and give him the Guns Up sign, or his former teammate/roommate joins him for mental support during a tournament.
“The thing I like about my closest friends and family is no matter what score I have, they're going to treat me the same way,” he said. “If I shoot 62 or 82, they're going to be calling me after the round making sure I'm OK. That's what I think is important.”
So far, Åberg has played 16 PGA events, making 13 cuts and winning his first professional tournament at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland on Sept. 3.
“It's a pretty surreal feeling to be honest,” he said in the post-tournament interview, “but obviously super, super happy.”
Åberg told the reporter while he tried not to think about it too much, he knew he needed to win to possibly make Team Europe for the Ryder Cup: a biennial men's golf competition between teams from Europe and the U.S.
“That would mean the world,” Åberg said. “As a young golfer growing up in Sweden, those are the tournaments and events you want to be a part of. And if I ever get the chance to be a part of that, I'll be over the moon.”
Which meant Åberg practically went into orbit less than 24 hours later, when he was informed he was a captain's pick for Team Europe.
The Ryder Cup released that Åberg was chosen because, “His form in his short professional career so far - and his undoubted talent - is such that he has shown enough to impress (Captain) Luke Donald and his backroom team.”
During the competition from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, Åberg teamed up with Viktor Hovland to beat the U.S. team of Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka 9-and-7 in match play during the Saturday morning foursomes session.
It was the largest margin of victory for an 18-hole match, foursomes or otherwise, in Ryder Cup history.
“You never get too much high or low from Ludvig,” Donald said. “He's just very even-keeled…and I think he's just going to let his clubs do the talking this week.”
Sure enough – Åberg almost made a hole-in-one during his historic foursomes performance. He told reporters after the win he felt like he needed to pinch himself, which was even more true when his efforts helped propel Team Europe to a Ryder Cup victory.
Åberg kept his record-setting streak going seven weeks later, Nov. 19, when he won
The RSM Classic with the lowest score over a tournament's final two rounds in PGA
PGA commentators described Åberg as a “Swedish Sensation,” as he sank a 20-foot birdie putt and pumped his fist in a rare display of celebration.
“Savor the moment Ludvig,” the commentator said. “You are now a PGA Tour winner.”
In addition to these accomplishments of a lifetime, Åberg has placed in the top 10 in two other PGA events, including a tie for fourth in the John Deere Classic. Consequently, he has soared up the world golf ranking into the top 30.
Åberg credits his success to simply staying true to himself – the same reason he may be spotted joking with a coach or caddy amid a stressful situation mid-round.
“I'm always going to be the same person, whether I play good golf or not,” he mused. “My score on the golf course isn't going to change the way I approach people or the way I want people to approach me. I want to be the same guy, whether I win every tournament or whether I lose every tournament.”
This mindset can prove challenging at times, but Åberg maintains focus on what he can control: the traits that have elevated him far beyond those plastic clubs of long ago.
He's not done learning. And he's far from done working because in his eyes, he has yet to “make it.”
“I still feel like there's so much to do,” he remarked. “I'm a competitor and I love to compete. I love to win. But I still think my achievements and accolades are more a receipt of me doing good practice and preparations ahead of every tournament I do. I feel like as long as I do that, good things will come.”