In his 11th PGA Tour professional start, Ludvig Åberg didn’t just get over the hump, he bulldozed through it.
The rookie fired back-to-back 61s on Saturday and Sunday to record a 29-under final score and win the RSM Classic.
It was a record-breaking week for the former Texas Tech Red Raider as he fought off 2016 winner Mackenzie Hughes to win by four shots.
“I felt like I was striking the ball very well all week. I’ve been striking the ball quite well over the last couple of months,” Åberg said. “It’s one of those weeks where everything kind of comes together… Mackenzie and I played some really good golf. He pushed me, and I think I pushed him as well. To make those few birdies when it matters is very, very cool.”
Those two 61s are the lowest closing 36 holes, by two shots, ever in PGA Tour history.
“I don’t think I’ve ever shot back-to-back 61s, to be fair. So that’s obviously something that I’ll probably never ever gonna do again,” Åberg said. “To do it here at Sea Island playing Seaside golf course is one of my favorites — visually, it’s really cool. I felt like I was playing well, then kind of got it all together when it mattered.”
Åberg played so well that he broke multiple records in the PGA Tour history books. He also destroyed the RSM’s 72-hole record by seven shots, previously set at 22-under by Talor Gooch in 2021 and Kevin Kisner in 2015.
Åberg also tied for the lowest 72-hole total in PGA Tour history at 253. He tied Justin Thomas’ 253 at the Sony Open in 2017.
The 24-year-old had the lowest 54-hole score ever in rounds two through four with 186 strokes as well.
Åberg wasted no time on Sunday. He birdied the first hole to take a three-shot lead. He made another on the 4th to help fight off Hughes’ back-to-back birdies.
The Swedish golfer made two more birdies on the par-4 5th and par-3 6th to go up by four. Hughes didn’t lay off the rookie though. The Canadian made three straight birdies to make the turn at 30 strokes and trail by two.
Åberg retaliated sinking birdies on 10 and 11, and it looked like he would run away with the tournament. Hughes climbed back within two once again after he made birdie on the 10th and 12th himself. The Swede stumbled on the par-3 12th by making his first bogey of the week, but he refused to fall apart.
It was his first bogey in 85 holes, dating back to the third round of the World Wide Technology Championship in Mexico.
“I was aware my first three rounds were bogey-free, so that bogey I made on 12 sucks,” he said. “I just try to stay where my feet are, and such a cliché, but hit the next shot as best I can. It’s really cool to sit back and look back at those things.”
He pulled a 4-iron out for the tee shot on 12 and gave it too much juice.
“My tendency is to flare it out a little bit to the right. It’s just one of them bad swings. I was a little bit in between clubs but tried to hit it hard and flared up to the right,” he explained.
While he was up by two heading into the final two holes, his putt on 17 was the most important of the tournament.
“I hit it way too hard, and it snapped at the end and went in, but that was quite cool,” Åberg said. “It makes the 18th hole a little bit more stress-free. I think I’m going to sleep well on that one.”
The rookie had the tournament won but made the victory that much sweeter as he made a 19-foot birdie putt to close it out.
This performance gave him his second win of the year after he took home the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour. He is also a victorious Ryder Cup member, where he played a pivotal role for the Europeans.
“It’s been a wild six months, but it’s been so much fun,” he said. “I still pinch myself in the morning when I wake up to realize that this is what I do for a job. It’s been so much fun. These experiences that I’ve had over the last six months has been beyond my dreams and I’ll never forget it.”
It feels like just a few months ago he won the 2021 Jones Cup at Ocean Forest, and it seems like yesterday that he was finishing up his collegiate career. Now he has punched his ticket into the Masters and PGA Championship next year. Since he ranks No. 53 in the FedEx Cup Fall rankings and is part of the Next 10, he will also get into the first three Signature events of 2024.
Åberg is just starting his career. This week, he sent a message to the rest of the PGA Tour. This start to his career mirrors Tiger Woods’, so if you didn’t know him before this week, you should get to know him now.
His season isn’t over yet. Åberg will tee it up one more time at the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational alongside Madelene Sagstrom in Naples, Fla.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.