Rookie Ludvig Aberg surges to European Masters win and into Europe's Ryder Cup selection picture
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Written by The Associated Press
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland -- Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg surged to a two-shot win at the European Masters on Sunday and right into the Ryder Cup selecton for Europe when the six captain’s picks were announced Monday.
Aberg stunned long-time leader Matt Fitzpatrick by reeling off four straight birdies from Nos. 14 to 17 to card a 6-under 64 for a 19-under total of 261.
Fitzpatrick faded to a tie for third, three shots back, though secured direct qualification for the Ryder Cup team to face the United States on a year-long points ranking. So too did Robert MacIntyre.
The 23-year-old Aberg turned professional only in June after being named the best college player in the United States for a second straight year at Texas Tech University.
In the sun-bathed Swiss Alps on Sunday, Aberg made himself a great option for Europe captain Luke Donald for the Ryder Cup in four weeks’ time in Rome, Italy.
“I figured a win would put me in a good position,” Aberg acknowledged. “Honestly, I’ve done a pretty good job of not thinking about it too much.”
Aberg's potential for the Ryder Cup was clear on the PGA Tour since June -- four top-25 finishes including tied for fourth at the John Deere Classic. He also was tied for fourth at the Czech Masters last weekend.
Still, victory on Sunday looked unlikely until deep into the final hour of play at Crans-sur-Sierre club. Fitzpatrick had led by three strokes when he birdied the par-5 14th but just 30 minutes – and back-to-back bogeys – later, a five-shot turnaround left Aberg clear by two.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to be honest,” Aberg said of his first win after just 75 days as a pro golfer that earned him a 425,000 euros check ($458,000). “I always had that (feeling) that I could do it.”
Aberg barely missed his birdie putt on No. 18 but it did not matter. Needing eagle on the 18th to force a playoff, Fitzpatrick made bogey for a 1-under 69 and 16-under total -- one behind runner-up Alexander Björk (66) -- that was tied with Connor Syme (67).
Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open winner, still secured his Ryder Cup place as the third-place finisher on the World Tour points qualification path.
MacIntyre of Scotland also will be in the Europe team at the Marco Simone club near the Italian capital from Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Despite finishing 16 shots back Sunday, MacIntyre accrued enough points on the European Points path to hold off Yannik Paul and Adrian Meronk, who finished in ties for 20th and 13th, respectively, at the European Masters.
The par-5 15th hole proved key for victory. Playing in the second-last group, Aberg hit his second shot close to the pin, and made birdie.
“I hit a 5-iron as hard as I could,” Aberg said, describing it as his favorite shot of the day. “I knew I needed to take care of the par-5s and luckily I did today.”
Minutes later, Fitzpatrick put his approach wide of the green and his third shot went through into a bunker. He carded his first bogey of the day and quickly made another at the par-3 16th, again finding himself wide right of the green.
After winning at the picturesque Crans-Montana ski resort in 2017 and ’18, the 29-year-old Englishman missed a chance to match Seve Ballesteros’ record of three titles at the European tour event.
Fitzpatrick’s path to earning automatic selection on points for the Ryder Cup was cleared by Tommy Fleetwood choosing not to play this weekend.
Fleetwood is a likely captain’s pick Monday, along with Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open winner.