Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg closed out a sensational rookie season with his first U.S. Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour title on Sunday, firing a nine-under-par 61 for a four-shot victory over Mackenzie Hughes in the RSM Classic golf tournament.
The 24-year-old, who turned pro in June, started the final round on the Seaside course at St. Simons Island, Georgia, the United States, with a one-shot lead and barely put a foot wrong, grabbing 10 birdies with one bogey for a 29-under-par total of 253.
Aberg cemented his rising star status, which had been building with a victory in the DP World Tour’s European Masters and a stellar performance in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States in Italy in September.
“It’s kind of beyond my dreams,” Aberg said after birdies at three of the last four holes. “It’s really cool. To first off play on the PGA Tour, I have a lot of people to thank for that. It’s been so much fun, six months that I’ll never forget.
“This is what you dream of as a kid. This is the sport that I love and the sport that I’m going to love for a very long time. Watching these events from a very young age is what I’ve done so to see myself win is really cool.”
The victory will move Aberg into the top 50 in the world rankings and give him entry to next year’s Masters at Augusta National, which will be his first appearance in a major championship.
Also on Sunday, South Korea’s Amy Yang claimed the biggest victory of her career, outdueling Japan’s Nasa Hataoka down the stretch to win the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour Championship in Florida.
The 34-year-old Florida-based Yang carded a six-under-par 66 to complete a three-shot victory at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples and earn the $2 million first prize.
“I still can’t believe I did it,” said Yang, whose four prior LPGA titles all came in Asia.
Hataoka had been at the top of the leaderboard since the opening round, and went into Sunday’s sharing the lead alongside Yang after shooting a seven-under-par 65 on Saturday.
“Throughout my career I went through so many ups and downs, and especially recent injury,” she said, adding that she was also pleased to hang on for the win after coming up short while in contention.
“I had some finishes close to winning and end up finishing top five, top 10, and I really didn’t want that to happen today,” she said.
“Beginning of the round I felt pretty nervous and I doubt myself … but I stayed strong throughout the round really well. This is very meaningful.”
Yang finished with a 27 under 72-hole aggregate 261, while Hataoka was three back in second place alongside Alison Lee of the United States, who shot a closing 66.
World number one Lilia Vu of the U.S. finished six shots off the lead on 21 under for the tournament after a seven-under-par final round, with Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul in fifth on 20 under after finishing with a six-under-par 66.
China’s Lin Xiyu and Yin Ruoning tied in the sixth.
(With input from AFP)