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  • Rookie Sensation Ludvig Aberg Poised For Masters Upset, Says Two Time US Open Winner

Rookie sensation Ludvig Aberg poised for Masters upset, says two-time US Open winner

Two-time US Open winner Curtis Strange has backed "dark horse" Ludvig Aberg to win the Masters and end the lengthy wait for a debutant winner.

Fuzzy Zoeller was the last player to triumph at Augusta National on their tournament debut in 1979, 20 years before Aberg was born.

Dan Pohl lost a play-off to Craig Stadler in 1982 and there have also been runners-up finishes for Jordan Spieth, Jonas Blixt and Sungjae Im, but Aberg faces a tall order to make history despite a brilliant start to his career.

After turning professional in June, Aberg won the final Ryder Cup qualifying event in Switzerland to earn a wild card from captain Luke Donald and helped Europe regain the trophy in Rome, one of his two wins a 9&7 thrashing (with Viktor Hovland) of Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.

The 24-year-old also won the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour and heads to Augusta for his first major appearance ranked ninth in the world.

"He's my dark horse," ESPN analyst and former Ryder Cup captain Strange said.

"In the last week some of my researchers at ESPN said how can he be a dark horse? I said, 'Well, he's never played in a major before'. He's only 24. He's come on the scene so quickly.

"He dominated the college scene. He's dominated whenever he's played throughout his whole life, which is very short. He has a swing to envy. He has the size. Looks like the perfect physique to play this game.

"It looks like he has a way about him that can last years and years. He's not going to wear himself out with living and dying with every move that he makes, rightly or wrongly.

"I think the world of his game, and we have a couple of guys like that now on tour. He's a rookie, but he certainly could play well and, if he won there (Augusta) it wouldn't surprise anybody, I don't think."

The bookmakers also give Aberg a fighting chance, rating the young Swede a 25/1 shot, but seemingly the man everyone has to beat is 2022 champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler.

Scheffler followed his victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational by becoming the first player to successfully defend the Players Championship title and surprisingly missed a short birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the Houston Open to force a play-off in pursuit of a third straight win.

"He is dominating physically from tee to green," Strange acknowledged. "His stats are wonderful. I think some of that is because he has such great hands for such a big man.

"A part of the game that doesn't get, to me, recognised enough is his pitching and chipping around the greens. It's phenomenal.

"He works at it. He doesn't look like he's getting too big for his britches. He's had a good run. He's doing everything he needs to do leading up to a major championship. It's all working for Scottie right now."

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