Ludvig Åberg’s meteoric rise resembles Tiger Woods’ rookie season in 1996

It is no secret that Ludvig Åberg is a rising star in professional golf.

After finishing atop the inaugural PGA Tour University standings, the young Swede turned professional in June and has impressed ever since.

He racked up his first win in September at the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour, and held off Matthew Fitzpatrick in doing so.

The next day, European captain Luke Donald used one of his six captain’s picks on Åberg. The former Texas Tech Red Raider became the first player to compete in a Ryder Cup before ever competing in a major championship.

He subsequently tallied a 2-2-0 record at Marco Simone, which included a record-breaking 9 & 7 victory over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka. He and Viktor Hovland dominated the two Americans in Saturday foursomes, impressing the Italian crowd and his fellow European golfers.

Ludvig Åberg, Ryder Cup

Ludvig Åberg celebrates Europe’s victory at the Ryder Cup with his teammates.
Getty Images

Then, one week later, Åberg returned to the PGA Tour for the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he lost to Luke List as a part of a five-man playoff.

So consider this.

Since the end of August, Åberg has tied for fourth, won, tied for 10th, celebrated a Ryder Cup victory, tied for second, tied for 13th, and finished in another tie for 10th at the World Wide Technology Championship.

He also tied for fourth at the John Deere Classic in July.

“If someone asked me that a couple of months ago, obviously, I would not have believed them,” Åberg said in Mexico last week. He was asked about what it is like to be the favorite this early in his career.

“I like to think that I prepare well for each event. I like to have fun on the golf course and, you know, whenever Thursday comes around I like to be ready. But, you know, to me that’s nothing that I can control; it’s outside of my control. What I can do is prepare and play as well as I can and then see where that takes me.”

He is playing as well as Tiger Woods did in 1996.

Woods made his professional debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in September 1996. He tied for 60th there and took home a check worth $2,544.

Åberg, meanwhile, brought home $64,850 in his pro debut at this year’s RBC Canadian Open. He finished in a tie for 25th.

Ludvig Åberg, PGA Tour, RBC Canadian Open

Ludvig Åberg speaks to the media ahead of the 2023 RBC Canadian Open.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

As for Woods, he continued to improve during the fall of 1996. He played in seven more events, winning two: the Las Vegas Invitational—now the Shriners Children’s Open—and the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic.

He also tied for 11th at the Canadian Open and recorded three other top-10s that fall.

Of course, Woods went on to win his first major the following spring at the 1997 Masters. He did so in record style. He blitzed Augusta National, winning by 12 strokes, the largest margin of victory the Masters has ever seen.

Some consider the 1997 Masters to be one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the sport. Tiger announced to the world that he was ready to dominate.

And that he did.

Undoubtedly, the world will never see another Tiger Woods again. But golf fans everywhere should not overlook Åberg’s meteoric rise from college senior to Ryder Cup star.

Plus, who knows? Maybe Jon Rahm will slip the green jacket onto Åberg next April, as Nick Faldo did to Woods in 1997.

History does often repeat itself. Perhaps that is happening right in front of our eyes.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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