Ludvig Aberg began his debut in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a declaration. Many in the media contingent haven’t been pronouncing his surname properly in his brief time as a professional golfer. And he insisted that such circumstances should continue … but only in the way he prefers.
At the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome last year, instructions were disseminated that his name should be pronounced “Oh-bare.” Fine. Close enough. When in Rome, etc. But in the US, he wants it to be “Oh-burg” with a hard “g,” emulating the pronunciation that Swedish countryman and hockey great Peter Forsberg employed throughout his NHL career.
As one longtime golf writer noted, “He’s got a ‘g’ in his name, might as well use it.”
Veering off on a tangent, we might say “gee” is descriptive of his game, as in, “gee, that kid is good,” or “gee whiz, have you seen that golf swing”? So it would behoove us all to get his name right since we’ll likely be hearing it a lot.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 2, 2024
And, well, gee, look who shares the lead at the halfway mark of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The sun showed staying power on Friday, and Aberg took advantage of the more welcoming conditions to submit a second-round seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach Golf Links to post 11-under 133, tied with World No.1 Scottie Scheffler (64 at Pebble Beach) and rookie Thomas Detry (70, PB).
Aberg, 24, converted more than 123 feet of putts on Friday, and that didn’t include the 40-footer for eagle he buried from the front edge at the par-5 second hole. He toured Pebble Beach bogey free as once again the competitors used preferred lies. And, gee, he managed to outshine his playing partner, Ryder Cup teammate and World No.2 Rory McIlroy, nipping him by a mere 12 shots.
“When he swings the golf club, it doesn’t look like there’s a ton that can go wrong,” McIlroy said. “He’s got an unbelievable attitude, great demeanour. Sort of the total package.”
McIlroy ain’t wrong. Since the All-American from Texas Tech turned pro in June after sweeping all three national player of the year awards in college golf, Aberg ranks first on the PGA Tour in birdies or better per round, third in strokes gained/off the tee and seventh in scoring.
He already has two victories, winning the tour finale in November at the RSM Classic and capturing the Omega European Masters before his successful debut in the Ryder Cup, where he went 2-2-0 at Marco Simone.
Clearly, he’s a quick learner. And earner, pocketing nearly $US3.5 million already on the PGA Tour alone.
“I think it comes back to just trying to figure everything out. Like your attention to detail, all these things and the preparation,” said the soft-spoken and laconic Aberg. “I have a caddie [veteran Joe Skovron] that is unbelievable when it comes to those kind of things. … I love golf, I love competing.”
Aberg actually played his first college event at Pebble Beach, one of two trips to the Monterey Peninsula. It didn’t go as well as the round he assembled on Friday. “I never played well here actually. I never did,” he said, laughing.
Though admittedly “streaky” with his play at the start of the year – he comes off a T-9 finish at last week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open – Aberg has displayed yet another weapon in his arsenal. It’s his equanimity.
“I don’t try to get too high or too low,” he said. “Golf is a very humbling sport, so just try to take it for what it is.”
What golf is for Aberg seems like the perfect vehicle for his various talents. He is the first college golfer to use the new PGA TOUR U program to jump right into the PGA Tour out of school. How is that working out so far? He’s 27th in the world. Stay tuned.
So, remember, it’s pronounced “Oh-berg.” But he spells trouble for the rest of golf.