Portugal Colonial - US Open leader Aberg living the dream in first pro year

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US Open leader Aberg living the dream in first pro year
US Open leader Aberg living the dream in first pro year / Photo: Alex Slitz - GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

US Open leader Aberg living the dream in first pro year

Ludvig Aberg's meteoric rise in his first year as a professional golfer includes two top-fight wins, a runner-up Masters finish and now the midway lead at the US Open.

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Sixth-ranked Aberg grinded out a one-under par 69 on Friday to seize a one-stroke lead after 36 holes at treacherous Pinehurst, the latest success for a 24-year-old Swede seen as one of golf's young rising stars.

"It's not something that I'm thinking about all the time, but sometimes I have to stop for a little bit and think about how fortunate I am to be able to do this at this level," Aberg said.

"To be able to play these tournaments, to be able to play with the guys I've watched on TV for such a long time is definitely a pinch-me moment, yeah."

Aberg was World Amateur number one last June when he decided to turn professional, finishing 25th in his pro debut at the US PGA Canadian Open.

Aberg won his first pro title last September at the DP World Tour's European Masters, then added his first US PGA victory last November at the RSM Classic.

Then came his second place effort in April at Augusta National in his major debut. And now he has a solid chance at claiming his first major title.

"Augusta proved to me that I was able to be in that position," Aberg said. "It was more of a justification, like yeah, you can actually be there and contend on a Sunday.

"I feel like those experiences that I had back in April, they were great. Hopefully we'll draw some similarities between those."

He has stressed the US Open is supposed to be difficult and he knows Pinehurst is as well, having played in a US Amateur here, saying it would have been his most difficult course played even before this week.

"A US Open is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be tricky, and it's supposed to challenge any aspect of your game," Aberg said. "And I feel like it's really doing that."

Pinehurst offers dome-shaped greens with long run-off areas with dirt and weeds in place of dense rough.

"Just with the way those greens are, when it gets really firm, and because you don't really have any bail-out areas, you've just got to take on the golf shots and see where it ends up," Aberg said.

"And if you don't pull it off, you're going to have a really tricky short game shot. It's a challenging golf course, but that's the way it was supposed to be."

- Mental test -

Keeping cool under pressure, Aberg said, is vital to success at Pinehurst.

"It's a demanding golf course, not only physically but mentally as well. It demands a lot of discipline and patience coming into these greens," Aberg said.

"I just have to play with a lot of acceptance. It's not going to be perfect all the time. Most likely all players in the field are going to have a struggle at some point during the round, and whenever that shows up, it's just one of them.

"All I try to do is execute the golf shots as good as I can. If I do so, that's great. But if not, we just deal with it, try to get back into position as soon as we can."

Aberg's secret weapon this week was having his swing coach come over from Sweden for work at Pinehurst.

"I don't get to see him that much. We did some work," Aberg said.

"You're always going to have something in your swing that you're going to work on. We worked on those tendencies. At least we have sort of the knowledge to kind of bring it back to where we want it to be."

A.P.Maia--PC