The last official event on the PGA Tour schedule didn’t feel so much like an ending but a beginning.
With his first U.S. tour victory at the RSM Classic, 24-year-old Ludvig Åberg put an exclamation point on the tour season and his own arrival as the game’s newest star.
In just his 11th tour start as a professional, Åberg delivered the kind of performance that demonstrated both his preternatural presence and his dazzling talent.
Åberg didn’t just win the tournament by four strokes over Mackenzie Hughes on Sunday. He tied the all-time tour record for the lowest two-round score, closing with rounds of 61-61 on his way to finishing at 29-under 253 at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course on St. Simons Island, Georgia. He earned $1.512 million from the $8.4 million purse.
Among the other records Åberg either touched or torched, he tied the tour’s all-time lowest 72-hole score and set the record for the lowest combined third- and fourth-round scores. He also might have earned himself the PGA Tour rookie-of-the-year honor after outplaying Eric Cole, the presumed leader for the award, who tied for third in the final event.
Still having never played in a major championship, Åberg was part of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, and in his three previous fall starts, he lost in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship then had T13 and T10 finishes before winning at Sea Island.
He also won the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour in September.
“I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to put that journey into words,” Åberg said. “It’s been a wild six months, but it’s been so much fun. I still pinch myself in the morning when I wake up to remind myself this is what I do. This experience has been beyond my dreams.”
Åberg is the first beneficiary of the PGA Tour U program, having earned his full privileges on tour by winning that competition for college junior and seniors earlier this year, effectively dismantling any arguments about giving a college player an automatic spot on the tour.
His performance at Sea Island further validated the praise and the potential of the former Texas Tech golfer.
“It’s quite surreal. If you had told me I would do this a couple of months ago, I would not have believed it,” Åberg said.
"But to shoot 60-63 Saturday, Sunday, you lose to 61-61, I have to feel pretty good about things."
While Åberg dominated the tournament, Ryan Moore helped himself immensely, moving up 10 spots to finish inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list. The 40-year-old, playing on his one-time career-earnings exemption, started the week at No. 128 but finished at 118 thanks to a T8 finish at Sea Island.
Moore’s finish knocked Carl Yuan back one spot, from 125 to 126, and cost him his fully exempt status.
“[At] 126, that means not that bad of a spot. Getting a handful of tournaments, so not too worried about that since I had one year under my belt. I hope I get off to a better start next year and just get in more tournaments and play good,” said Yuan, who added he will try to improve his status through PGA Tour Q-School next month.
There was a measure of consolation for Hughes, whose 60-63 weekend still wasn’t good enough to chase down Åberg. He finished 51st on the FedEx Cup points list to lead the 10 players who earned spots in the first two 2024 signature events by virtue of their points finish.
“It's hard to sit here and be disappointed,” Hughes said. “I mean, a small part of you is, obviously, like you want the win, and that's kind of what we play for on Sunday when you're that close. But to shoot 60-63 Saturday, Sunday, you lose to 61-61, I have to feel pretty good about things. I feel as though it's one of those tournaments where you finish up and you feel like you didn't lose the tournament. You just got beat.”
Also finishing in the “next 10” were Beau Hossler, Åberg, Ben Griffin, Taylor Montgomery, Matt Kuchar, Nick Hardy, J.J. Spaun, Sam Ryder and Luke List.
Ron Green Jr.