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April 9, 2024

Ludvig Aberg

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to welcome Ludvig Aberg to the interview room.

Ludvig, welcome to your first Masters and your first major. This time last year you were still in college but have since had an impressive rise through the professional ranks in a very short period of time. What are your first impressions of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, I mean, obviously, it's a pleasure to be here. I think, I mean, Augusta National speaks for itself. It's an unbelievable property, and I'm very, very fortunate to be a part of it. It's a golf course I love, and it's a golf course that I've watched for such a long time, and I am very, very privileged to be here.

THE MODERATOR: Great. All right. We're going to open it up to some questions.

Q. You're the highest ranked debutant, second highest, behind only Wyndham Clark. So how do you balance? Most guys, their first Masters, they're trying to take everything in, they're trying to soak in the experience. But you're in a unique position where you believe you can win this tournament. So how are you balancing those two things this week?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, it's a tricky balance because obviously I'm feeling all the first-time feelings that everyone's feeling, but I'm also trying to be okay with all those things coming at me at the same time. Because I think once you start fighting it, once you start trying to push it away, I think that's when it becomes tricky.

So I guess all I'm trying to do is just embrace all the nerves and all the excitement that I feel and at the same time know my capabilities and know my qualities and know that that's probably going to be good enough to compete. I can't make any promises, but I'll definitely make sure that, coming Thursday, I'll be as prepared as I can.

Q. Kind of a follow-up. Where was the first place you went on the property, and what were you most excited to see? Have you got a big shopping list of merch that you need to go and buy for people?

LUDVIG ABERG: A big shopping list?

Q. Yeah, in the merch center. Have you been asked to buy lots of stuff for lots of people?

LUDVIG ABERG: I'm sorry, I don't understand the question.

Q. So merchandise, like hats and so on, has anyone asked you to buy anything?

LUDVIG ABERG: Oh, yeah, I've had multiple friends text me and ask me to get some stuff. I'm trying to get all that done before the tournament starts and before it gets really busy. But I'm sure I'm going it get myself a hat as well.

Q. In terms of the first place you went on property, where were you most excited to go to?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think just trying to soak it all in. We walked the back nine yesterday. I was here two weeks ago, and we played. And yesterday, when we came in, it was very cool. Obviously, you see -- I think my favorite part is when you hit your second shot off 11 and you're walking down the hill at 11, walking down, watching over 12 and seeing all those, kind of picturing all the iconic shots that's been hit. And that's what I really love about this place, and that's what I really love about being here.

Q. Two weeks ago the first time you had played here ever?

LUDVIG ABERG: It was my second time. We went my freshman year of college. We took a team trip. We had two donors took us out. It was right before COVID hit, a couple weeks prior. So we had a great weekend. We got to play the golf course, and, yeah, it was really cool.

Q. Who have you leaned on the most in terms of trying to learn this golf course for your debut?

LUDVIG ABERG: My caddie, Joe. Joe's been around here for however long he's been here for. And he's seen the place, and he's been a very valuable tool for me. And he's helped me a ton with not only once we got here but also certain shots that you can work on when you're home, make sure that you come prepared for certain things that might show up during the tournament round.

He's seen it all, and I trust him with everything I have.

Q. Things have gone so steadily pretty well for you so far in your first year, and you generally seem so even keeled. What are you kind of like when things aren't going well or when you're having a really bad round? How would you describe yourself?

LUDVIG ABERG: I get -- I don't get very angry. I get more frustrated and disappointed with myself. I don't toss clubs, I don't get all these anger tantrums. So I get more, you know, disappointed, frustrated with myself, can't really figure it out. And sometimes it holds me back a little bit, and I'm working on it.

But hopefully -- you know, because you're not always going to play perfect golf. It's not always going to be great all the time. So all I try to do is keep my emotions intact and make sure that it doesn't happen too often at least.

Q. Is there a time in your career, whether it was younger or recently, that failed is maybe not the right word, but you really kind of frustrated yourself or didn't do what you wanted?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think it happens almost every round you play at some point, whether it's a shot or a stretch where you're not playing as good as you wanted to.

That's what golf is about, I think. It's not going to be perfect. It's not going to be pretty all the time. But if you can somehow scrape it around and not get too high and not get too low, I think that's my take on it and that's how I try to do it. But I guess there's no right or wrong answer to that.

Q. We've just heard from Tiger and Rory, and both of them spoke at length about sort of the benefit of learning this golf course and knowing your way around. Wondering what have you learned and what do you still need to learn?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think there's a lot left more me to learn. Once again, I'll trust Joe, my caddie. I'll trust him in terms of the preparation, in terms of course management because he's seen it, and he's been there for a long time. And I think that's what I have to do.

Obviously, the golf course is very tricky. You got to know your spots, know your misses. You have to play very good golf and hit the shots. But hopefully we'll use these couple practice days ahead of us and make sure that, come Thursday, we'll know a little bit more now or know a little bit more then than I do now.

Q. You closed your collegiate career out last year by winning the Haskins Award. Can you talk to perhaps the foundation that was built for you and through Texas Tech and how you believe that's helped you with your start to your professional career?

LUDVIG ABERG: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think what I was able to do in college definitely helped me do this because it made me realize that college is great for many, many reasons. It teaches you a lot of things, not only maturing and growing up and taking care of your own stuff and not have your mom tap your shoulder when you do laundry and do your homework and those things. So I think that taught me a lot. Obviously, moving away across the world as well.

So but on the golf course too. College golf is great. The quality is really good. And if you can play good college golf, most likely you'll be able to play good professional golf as well.

So I think that's what I've learned over these last -- I guess almost a year since I turned professional. I think that's an encouraging part for the amateurs that are in the amateur game right now and in college, because the line is quite thin, to be honest. But obviously I owe a lot to Texas Tech and the program and the opportunity that I got from them.

Q. Can you tell us about how the Masters is thought about or viewed in your home country of Sweden?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, we were talking about it the other day. I think the Masters is always -- it's always, you know, a special week and a special tournament. I think one of the reasons is because it's starting to feel like spring back home, and golf is kind of coming around the corner after a long winter. Most likely we're going to have -- we've had some snow and we've had some cold days. But now the Masters is kind of kick starting April and we can -- the golf courses are opening and we can go play again.

I think that's what I really enjoyed and I remember watching the Masters when I was younger, and you would always be so excited to go play golf after you watched it. I still have that feeling to this day, and hopefully I'll never really lose that, I think.

Q. Obviously it's your major debut as well as your Masters debut, so could you just sort of talk a little bit about that vibe? Obviously at a time when the majors are the only time when everybody comes together. It's not as though you have everybody at THE PLAYERS Championship last month.

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, I mean, obviously a major is a little bit different. Whether you like it or not, it's a bigger tournament. There's a little bit of a different vibe to it. I'm just right now experiencing it for the first time. And like I touched on before too, I'm okay with that and I'm okay with feeling all the nerves and being okay with it being a little bit different to a normal tournament.

Obviously it's cool to see all the best players in the world together. I think that's what we all want, ultimately. But it's a pleasure to be here.

Q. Ever since you turned professional feels like your world kind of accelerated, contending week-to-week, winning in Switzerland, winning in Sea Island, the Ryder Cup? I mean, how are you able to manage the day-to-day exhaustion, kind of get through that, and how does that contribute to a week like this?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, I mean, definitely I think my life on the golf course has changed a lot over the last couple of months, but my life hasn't changed a ton off the golf course, which I think is really important. My personality is the same. I don't try to do anything different from what I did last year. I think it's very important for me to stay doing that, doing those things. But obviously it's really cool to now be able to play these tournaments and being in the situation that I am. It's very cool.

Q. Since you turned professional, your chipping has really improved. Can you talk about what's gone into that?


Q. Your chipping.

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, yeah, my short game has gotten a lot better. I started working with Peter Hanson a lot more in terms of my short game. And obviously Peter, he's played a lot of good golf over his career, and his short game is still really good.

I remember we worked a little bit at PLAYERS, and he was trying to show me this shot. And he just steps up, and he makes it. So that's the kind of teacher he is, and I'm learning a lot from him.

Q. You've been asked or told over the last nine months that this is your first of a lot of stuff. You're going to get to a point where you're not going to hear that anymore. Are you consciously aware of all this stuff being your first, or are you just adapting to wherever you're going?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, I mean, you're very right, I've had a lot of firsts over the last couple of months. Once again, I'm trying to embrace it. I'm not trying to push it away. I'm not trying to fight it. I think that's one of the key things.

And I remember back in last year when we played in Rome, that was a big first as well. And that was very nerve-wracking, but it was also very cool experience and something that taught me a lot that week.

I think a lot of those experiences that I'll have in the next couple of months will be very similar, and I think I'm just trying to learn from it, try to have fun. And whether you like it or not, it is going to be different. But it's also just golf, and it's just me and my 14 clubs, I guess.

Q. Of the four majors, which is the one that when you were a kid growing up trying to hole a putt, pretending, thinking it's to win a major, which was the one that you really always wanted to win?

LUDVIG ABERG: It was this, the Masters, definitely.

Q. Why so?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think one of the reasons was what I talked about before and because it's the first tournament, first major of the year and spring is kind of around the corner back home. We were so excited to play golf, and that was -- obviously Augusta is the most special place in golf as well. So I think all of those things coming together just wants you to play good golf here and wants you to be a part of the Masters.

Q. Do they sell pimento cheese in Sweden?

LUDVIG ABERG: I'm not even sure. I'm not -- I don't think so.

Q. Have you had a sandwich yet?

LUDVIG ABERG: I haven't. I haven't. I'm sure I'll have one later this week at some point, yeah.

Q. You talk about being motivated as a kid to play the Masters. What's your earliest childhood memory of watching a Masters, and what about -- I'm sure you remember Peter's nice performance here as well.

LUDVIG ABERG: I was going to say, the one year that I definitely remember watching a lot of it was when Peter was -- I think it was 2012, when he was playing in the final group. And, I mean, obviously I didn't know him at the time, and it's pretty cool to that I've gotten to know him quite well over the last couple years, and he's been telling me stories.

And that was the year that Bubba hit it from the trees, I think. And I remember that year watching it quite intense when he was in the final group. But I've watched it a ton since as well.

Q. You spoke about the feelings at the Ryder Cup. Can you compare the nerves going into that and this week? Obviously such a different environment, team sport there, but the crowd is huge and everything is so noisy compared with this?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, it's a -- obviously you still have the nerves, but it's a different dynamic to it. I feel like now I'm still only playing for myself and me and my team, whereas in Rome you play for so much more and you play for your country, your continent and your teammates, and it's just a different dynamic to it.

But this week is really special as well, and I try to have fun. I try to embrace it and see where that takes us.

Q. One of the stats that is thrown around a lot at the Masters is the fact that none of the first-timers have won since 1979 when Fuzzy did it. Do you pay any attention to stats like that?

LUDVIG ABERG: I actually didn't know that stat up until just now, so I guess not. But, yeah, I mean, I think that speaks to the difficulty of the golf course and the difficulty of some of the things that you might get thrown at you in the tournament. But I can't really do a whole lot about that.

Q. What were some of the shots that Joe was challenging you to hit kind of coming into this week, and then what was the shot that Peter did that you couldn't do?

LUDVIG ABERG: Well, I think a few -- obviously the things that I've been working on quite a lot is the uneven lies that you get here. You're going to get a lot of ball below your feet, ball above your feet, all those sort of things, and trying to keep it on the correct sides. So I think we did a lot of those things.

Then Peter's just helped me a lot with short game in general and trying to get a more deeper understanding of what happens when you do this, what happens when you do that. Because it's very, very logical. And I think with his help I've just become more eager to learn about it, I think.

It's fun to hit nice bunker shots. It's fun to hit flop shots and those things. So I think he's just been an all-around great teacher in short game.

Q. When you came here with your college team prior to COVID, were there any holes that surprised you the most that maybe watching on TV they surprise you in terms of scale or difficulty or anything like that?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think one thing that stood out to me was how much above the -- the ball above your feet on 13. That second shot where you are just hitting your tee ball around the corner, I didn't realize how much above your feet that was going to be. But I think that would be the one that stands out to me.

Q. I imagine you're the only person in the room who is here two weeks ago, so what changes about the golf course in two weeks' time?

LUDVIG ABERG: It's obviously gotten a little bit firmer, a little bit -- I think when we played, it was quite cold as well. So it played quite long. I remember No. 1 was into the wind so I had like a pretty long club in.

But, yeah, it's gotten a little bit firmer. It was a little bit softer back a couple weeks ago. I would assume it's just going to get a little bit firmer every day.

Q. You mentioned Peter Hanson being kind of a mentor to you. I'm wondering, do you have any relationship with Henrik Stenson?

LUDVIG ABERG: No, not really. We text every now and then, but I don't really have a relationship with him.

Q. Was he someone that you looked up to growing up?

LUDVIG ABERG: Yeah, he was the main guy in Sweden when I grew up. Obviously with all of his accolades and the wins that he had, he is still the main guy in Sweden, when he won the major championship and he won the Open Championship. That almost should be a national holiday in Sweden, I think.

Q. Have you asked any players to do practice rounds or plan to for tomorrow?

LUDVIG ABERG: We'll see. I think we, I think yesterday we just chipped and putted, it was just me and my caddie. Today we might have a game and then tomorrow I don't really know at this time.

Q. But you are going to play the par-3 and do you have a family member or loved one who is going to caddie for you?

LUDVIG ABERG: I don't really have any plans for that yet. We'll see where that takes us. But, yeah, we'll see.

Q. Just speaking to the growth you've had over the past year, when you think about yourself as an amateur golfer how do you think you would have handled playing a competitive round at Augusta National?

LUDVIG ABERG: I think, ball striking-wise I would have been fine, I think. But I think in terms of the course management I would have a lot to learn. I think that's one of the biggest things that I've gotten better at, I would say, over the last couple years. It's just knowing your misses a little bit better, not get too high on hitting good shots and not get too low on hitting bad shots. I think just knowing your ways around the golf course gets more important as tougher as it gets. And I would say, you know, missing on the right sides and those kind of things I have gotten a lot better at.

THE MODERATOR: Well thank you, Ludvig. All the best this week.

LUDVIG ABERG: Thank you.

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