In professional golf, there is no such thing as a surefire prospect.
Last fall, the golf world lost its collective mind talking about 20-year-old Tom Kim and his potential career trajectory. Following a five-week stretch in which Kim racked up two PGA Tour wins, the discourse felt out of control, with plenty of people throwing out ridiculous projections. That was always going to be short-sighted; not only because success is fleeting, but also because Tom Kim does not have the statistical profile of a long-term top-10 player in the world. Specifically, he lacks the off-the-tee firepower wielded by most of the top players. Since last fall’s hypestorm, Kim’s results have regressed to a more sustainable level. He’s a phenomenal talent, but the expectations heaped upon him were not well-measured.
This weekend the golf world got a look at another top young talent as Ludvig Aberg contended at the Rocket Mortgage Classic for much of the golf tournament. Through two rounds, Aberg ranked third in Driving Distance and tied for second in Driving Accuracy. Aberg stumbled over the course of his final 27 holes, ending up with a 40th place finish. Finish aside, Ludvig showed flashes throughout the tournament. He ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and finished in the top 10 in birdies or better. He made 12 bogeys or worse on a soft, easy golf course. As Aberg matures, learns the courses on the PGA Tour, and figures out his course management/shot selection, he’ll likely eliminate the sloppy bogeys he made in Detroit. In Aberg’s three professional starts since wrapping up his collegiate career, his T-40 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic is his worst finish. His combination of power and precision bodes well for his future, given that such attributes are among the best indicators of success at the highest level in professional golf.
I’m cautiously optimistic about Aberg. His off-the-tee prowess most closely resembles Cameron Young’s driving abilities, an attribute that has translated to immediate success in major championships. Heaping lofty expectations on a 23-year-old is a disservice to him, but golf fans should be excited about Aberg’s trajectory. He has the right set of skills to contend at majors and make plenty of European Ryder Cup teams.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.