LA QUINTA, California — In the middle of a practice round for the Prestige college golf tournament at PGA West on Sunday, Texas Tech star Ludvig Aberg left the Norman Course to be the featured guest at a junior clinic conducted by the tournament. Then he had a quick interview with media before heading back out to the course to rejoin his Red Raiders teammates.
For Aberg, it’s all part of learning the ropes of what he hopes will be a professional golf career in the coming months.
“It is what it is. I know that pro golf is going to be like that,” said Aberg, the Swedish star from Texas Tech who is No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and currently No. 1 in the PGA Tour U Rankings, a path to an exemption directly to a PGA Tour card. “They have a lot going on and they have a lot of people who try to get ahold of you and there is media and there are manufacturers. It is part of the game. I think you have to learn to embrace it and not see it as kind of something that is holding you back.”
Learning about the professional game seems to be a large part of Aberg’s plans for the final few months of his college career. The 23-year-old Texas Tech senior played in the DP World Tour Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January, firing a first-round 65 before drifting back on the leaderboard to 70th. In the coming weeks, Aberg has two sponsor’s invitations on the PGA Tour, one to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and one to the Valspar Championship.
It’s a path that’s fine with Texas Tech coach Greg Sands.
“It is good for our team. We have a really deep team, said Sands, in his 21st year as head coach at Texas Tech and a member of the Golf Coaches Association of American Hall of Fame. “Him finishing well on the PGA Tour really helps us in a different way, with recruiting and the like. It’s a mix of things.”
Mixing college and pro tournaments
For now, it is Aberg’s top ranking in the PGA Tour U standings that is important for his future. Complied from NCAA Division I men’s team competitions, official PGA Tour events, select DP World Tour events and a handful of other tournaments, the rankings offer a PGA Tour exemption to the golfer ranked No. 1 at the end of the NCAA Division I championship the last week of May. With two wins and 11 top-10 finishes in 19 eligible events, Aberg leads Austin Greaser of North Carolina in the 2023 race to a tour exemption.
That ranking means Aberg’s name has been seen on PGA Tour telecasts this year each time the PGA Tour U rankings are discussed or run on a crawl at the bottom of the television screen.
“It’s good. I feel like it is more a receipt of me doing some good stuff,” Aberg said. “That’s all I try to do is get the ball in the hole the best I can, as fast as I can. And if you are doing something good, there are going to be people around watching and a lot more eyes on you, which is something I try to embrace.”
Sands, who said coaching the self-motivated Aberg is like a dream, said there is no chance that Aberg will fall victim to the distractions of rankings or the chase for a PGA Tour card.
“He’s got a consistent personality, he’s got a consistent work ethic,” Sands said. “He’s really unflappable on the golf course. That really just speaks to his demeanor. Everything about him is just pretty consistent, so I think that lends itself to never really being too far off. And when he is off, he still knows it and manages it. I think that is what makes him special, not make things bigger than they are, kind of staying in the moment.”
At the Prestige this week, Aberg is a two-time defending individual champion, sharing the title in 2021 with two other players and winning the title outright in 2022 on the tricky and demanding Norman Course, which features just over 60 acres of turf and plenty of native desert landscaping that is not seen in Aberg’s home of Eslov, Sweden.
“Last year we had a lot of wind. We had a few days where it was borderline playable,” Aberg said. “I managed myself around the golf course. I kept it low in the wind and obviously when it is windy like that, you’ve just got to accept it and be okay with it and try to make it as good as you can. So I did that last year and hopefully, this year might be a little bit different with the winds being a little lower and the greens being a bit firmer. So a little bit of a different game.”