Ludvig Aberg says he has exceeded his own expectations by being in the frame for a Captain’s Pick in Team Europe at next month’s Ryder Cup.
The Swede makes his first start at the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club this week as he aims to build on finishing in a tie for fourth at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.
That was his second top-five finish in as many months after finishing in the same position at the John Deere Classic on the PGA TOUR – his fourth event since turning professional.
Those performances have put him on the radar of European Captain Luke Donald, who played alongside the 23-year-old at the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier this summer.
But while Aberg is delighted to be in the discussion for inclusion in the 12-man team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, he is firmly focused on putting together another strong performance in the Swiss Alps.
"Obviously all those (Ryder Cup) conversations are very flattering," said Aberg, who is playing alongside Team Europe vice captains Edoardo Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts over the opening two rounds.
"I wouldn't expect myself to be in that position this early on, to be honest. But all I can do is try to prepare for every tournament the best I can.
"Once I'm on the golf course, I just try to have fun and hit as few shots as I can. Then it's up to up to the captain and the vice captains and see what they want to do.
"It would mean the world. As a young person growing up in Europe, I watched the Ryder Cup for so many years.
"It's a dream come true if you were to be picked for it once in your career. So I would love it, but it's not up to me.
"I got to play with (Luke Donald) in Detroit earlier a couple of months ago. That was the one time that we've kind of gotten to know each other a little bit better."
Earlier this year, Aberg became the first player to earn PGA TOUR membership by finishing No. 1 on the 2023 PGA TOUR University ranking.
Ahead of his appearance in the Czech Republic last week, Aberg spoke about having lofty ambitions and he is pleased with how he has coped since leaving the amateur ranks in June.
“It’s (the transition from amateur to pro) been something that I've been wanting to do for such a long time, and now that I've taken that step, I have to pinch myself in the arm every now and then to realise how fortunate I am," he said.
“I am trying to enjoy it as much as I can and play some good golf.”
Asked whether he was surprised with his performances so far as a professional, he added: “I wouldn't necessarily say surprised, I think that's the wrong word.
“But I've always known my own capabilities and what I can do. So, for me, that's what I expect from myself.
“I'm proud of the way that I've handled all the noise and distractions that goes around playing golf, which is a little bit different from college. But I try to embrace it, and I try to have fun with it.”
While Aberg will rely on a Captain’s Pick if he is to feature at the Ryder Cup, another player who also has hopes of a debut in the match play contest is Victor Perez.
The Frenchman is one of six players who can end the week in the final automatic qualifying spot on the European Points List, currently occupied by Robert MacIntyre.
The equation is simple for Perez: he needs to win this week or finish in solo second place to have a chance, otherwise he will need to be picked by Donald.
Having come close to qualifying in 2021 at Whistling Straits, Perez is aware of what is at stake.
“Obviously it's been a dream and it's a goal since the start of the year, so it's definitely a focus,” said the 30-year-old who won his first Rolex Series title in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year.
“But I think the experience from two years ago and with two more years of qualifying, I've kind of been in that loop for a bit of time now and I know a little bit more how to handle it.
“I have to finish in the top three or something, but then it's like this guy can tie and then this guy should do this, it’s a little bit of a throw of a coin.
“I think you try to do the best you can. You don't control as much as you think you do.
“It's not easy (learning process) and I'm not going to have mastered it, but I would say it's better than the time before, so I'm looking forward to the week.”
Perez, who is ranked third on the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex, is hoping he can take some of the confidence gained from his tie for 11th last week in the Czech Republic as he makes his fourth visit to Crans-Montana.
"It’s obviously an iconic venue," he said. "It's not a course that I've had the most success on unfortunately, but it's definitely always a nice spot on the schedule.
"It’s an iconic course. They've remodeled a few holes, which I think make it even better. I think it's getting better every year. Looking forward to a good week in the in the cold."
Meanwhile, as a graduate of Texas Tech University, Aberg is hoping his past playing experience at altitude can help him.
"Where I went to school in Texas, we're at 3000 feet, so it's not as severe as here, but a little bit," he reflected. "It’s a bit of an adjustment I would say, but most of all with the temperature changes throughout the day that's affecting the ball.
"So it's a little bit difficult, at least we're two people working together and trying to figure it out. So, I'm not going to take the whole blame if it goes wrong, but you know it's fun and you feel pretty strong with the driver."