Ryder Cup rookie Aberg shines on PGA Championship bow


Ryder Cup debutant Ludvig Aberg has given a glimpse of what his colleagues can expect with five successive birdies during an eventful opening round at the European Tour's PGA Championship.

The 23-year-old Swede, who was one of captain Luke Donald's six picks after a stunning start to his professional career, carded a four-under 68 to sit four strokes off the lead after the first round at Wentworth on Thursday.

Denmark's Marcus Helligkilde topped the leaderboard at the sun-drenched course near London with a round of eight-under 64 that included 10 birdies and two bogeys.

Several other members of the European team are in action at the prestigious event including Rory McIlroy who struggled with a level-par round of 72 alongside Aberg and Viktor Hovland.

The Australian challenge was led by Jason Scrivener, who recorded eight birdies to finish with a 68 to join a host of players just outside the top 10, while Min Woo Lee ended with an eagle three which left him one under alongside another compatriot, Adam Scott.

Aberg only turned professional in June having excelled on the US college tour. He won this month's European Masters title in Crans Montana and has been described as a "generational player" by Europe captain Donald who will lead his team against the United States in Rome later this month.

He made an impact on Thursday with his charge beginning on the 11th with a superb approach giving him a short birdie putt and he continued the momentum through the 15th.

Aberg undid his good work somewhat with a double-bogey at the 17th after hitting his tee shot out of bounds but a birdie at the par-five 18th made amends as he left Ryder Cup teammates McIlroy and Hovland in the shade.

"It was great," he said. "A little bit more people than I'm used to following me around. It was really fun playing with those two guys. Obviously the level of golf that they can do is pretty amazing and for me to watch that is pretty cool.

"I was kind of walking around and then almost pinched myself in the arm on the fairways but really enjoyed it and proud of the way I handled it today."

Norway's Hovland, who shot a 69, said the experience would be good for Aberg as he prepares for the Ryder Cup intensity.

"The way he's played the last couple of months, he has not been a pro very long but he certainly doesn't look scared of the moment," Hovland said. "So I think it's just a great experience for him but I think he's ready, regardless.

"Ludvig was certainly on a heater mid-round and the crowd was loving it."