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Viktor Hovland, Ludvig Åberg set Ryder Cup record in Foursomes rout

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Viktor Hovland, Ludvig Åberg set Ryder Cup record in Foursomes rout

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy – It was a pairing borne out of a similar skillset, and a similar tongue.

    Viktor Hovland can speak his native Norwegian to partner Ludvig Åberg when they are walking down the fairways of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, while Åberg can answer in Swedish.

    “It’s very similar,” Åberg said of their respective languages. “I actually have two Norwegian roommates that I live with, so kind of got used to the Norwegian language.

    “But yeah, it's comfort.”

    Adding to their confidence in each other is their strong ballstriking. Both players possess a rare combination of distance and accuracy, making them an impenetrable duo that avoids the stressful situations inherent to Foursomes. That’s why they’ve proven to be the perfect match in this Ryder Cup, a fact confirmed by a record-setting victory Saturday morning.

    Hovland and Åberg beat one of the United States’ strongest offerings, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka, 9 and 7, in Saturday morning Foursomes session. Their victory kicked off another successful session from a relentless European Team that is running away with the Ryder Cup.

    The previous record for largest Foursomes win in an 18-hole Ryder Cup match was 7-and-6 by three U.S. teams, most recently Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in 2012. The victory by Åberg and Hovland also was the largest winning margin in any 18-hole Ryder Cup match.

    European domination has been the story of this week. Europe led 6.5-1.5 after Day 1, matching the largest lead at this point in the proceedings in Ryder Cup history, after not allowing the U.S. to win a single match on Friday.

    Europe quickly quashed any hopes of a U.S. rally when play resumed Saturday, winning the first two holes of the first two matches. It never trailed in three of the four morning matches.

    Hovland and Åberg also won their Friday Foursomes match, 4 and 3, over Max Homa and Brian Harman. This could prove to be a long and fruitful partnership for Europe in the more-difficult Foursomes format, a Scandinavian edition of the famed Spanish Armada pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal that won the most points in European history. Hovland and Åberg have a combined age of just 49 years old.

    Hovland’s success this week shows how far he’s come since the previous Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. He did not win a match that week but arrived at Marco Simone as the reigning FedExCup champion and with a much-improved short game.

    Hovland is now 2-0-1 in his first home Ryder Cup. Åberg, the No. 1 player in PGA TOUR University’s Class of 23, is just four months out of college but already a winner on the DP World Tour and ranked in the top 100 of the world.

    “You never get too much high or low from Ludvig,” European Captain Luke Donald said earlier this week. “He's just very even-keeled, … and I think he's just going to let his clubs do the talking this week.”

    Åberg and Hovland played steady golf Saturday and capitalized on the mistakes of their opponents, who were often left scrambling after missing the fairways. Scheffler and Koepka started the match 6-5-6 to fall 3-down. They made their first par on the fourth hole, but Åberg nearly aced that hole and Europe won its fourth consecutive hole of the match. A European win on the sixth hole was sandwiched between the only two halved holes of the front nine.

    Europe birdied the next four holes while the United States was scrambling just to save par, or worse, because of wayward tee shots. On the par-4 eighth hole, Europe hit its approach to 11 feet while the United States was still 100 yards away after three shots.

    Koepka hit the team’s second shot into the water on the par-5 ninth, but Åberg’s approach left the team with an easy up-and-down for birdie. The United States was 5-over par on the front nine, while Europe shot 4 under before making birdie on the first two holes of the back nine, as well.

    Hovland hit it to 11 feet again on No. 10 after the United States had to pitch out from the rough and the match was over after the United States hit several shots from the steep slopes surrounding the green on the drivable 11th.

    In a week defined by Europe’s domination, Hovland and Åberg provided a historic performance.

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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