Golf roundup: Ludvig Aberg hits the mark in first PGA Tour win

AP photo by Stephen B. Morton / Ludvig Aberg follows through on his drive off the seventh tee during the final round of the PGA Tour's RSM Classic on Sunday in St. Simons Island, Ga.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Ludvig Aberg added to his astonishing second half of the year when he closed with a second straight 9-under-par 61 on Sunday to win the RSM Classic, adding his first PGA Tour triumph to a victory on Europe's DP World Tour and a winning debut in the Ryder Cup this fall.

Just six months ago, the 24-year-old Swede was still playing college golf at Texas Tech.

"Beyond my dreams," Aberg said. "It's been six months I'll never forget."

Not only did he win the final event of the PGA Tour season, he did it in record fashion. Aberg's final birdie allowed him to tie the tour's 72-hole scoring record, matching the 253 of Justin Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open.

His 61-61 finish set the tour record for lowest closing 36 holes, beating by one the mark shared by Matt Jones (2022 Tournament of Champions) Patrick Rodgers (2019 RSM Classic).

"I think the sky's the limit," said Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, who gave Aberg a spirited battle with a 63 but couldn't keep up and had to settle for second at 25-under 257. "He's got the whole package. Got a good demeanor, doesn't get too up or down. I'm sure we're going to see a lot of him for the next few years."

Aberg seized control with three straight birdies, one of them when he fearlessly drove over the marsh on the 407-yard fifth hole of the Seaside Course to 30 feet, and then held off Hughes, a hard-luck victim who shot a 60 on Saturday.

Even after making his only bogey of the tournament, on the 12th hole Sunday, Aberg answered every challenge.

He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the end to put his name in the record book, then gave a brief, sweeping fist pump, a rare display of emotion. He said he considers being in contention a privilege, and he looks the part with a sweet smile and a killer instinct.

"This is what you dream of as a kid," Aberg said. "This is the sport I love and am going to love for a long time. If you told me this a couple of months ago, I would not believe you. To be in this position, I need to pinch myself in the arm."

Aberg would appear to be a shoo-in for PGA Tour rookie of the year. The other top candidate, Eric Cole, played in the final group with him and shot a 67 to tie for third with Tyler Duncan (65) at 22 under.

Luke List had the best finish among three Baylor School graduates, closing with a 65 to tie for 19th at 16 under. Harris English (67) and Stephan Jaeger (65) were part of the tie for 28th at 14 under.

  photo  AP photo by Lynne Sladky / Amy Yang celebrates after winning the LPGA's season-ending tournament, the CME Group Tour Championship, on Sunday in Naples, Fla.

Amy Yang takes LPGA season finale

NAPLES, Fla. — Amy Yang picked a lucrative time for her first LPGA Tour victory on American soil.

Yang birdied her last two holes for a 6-under 66 to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the $2 million prize, matching the largest in women's golf.

"I was so nervous down the stretch," Yang said. "But I try to tell myself: 'I can do this. I can do this.' I'm so happy I made it."

The victory was her fifth on the LPGA Tour, with the previous four coming in Asia.

Yang holed out for an eagle from the 13th fairway to overcome an early three-shot deficit, and then she let Japan's Nasa Hataoka make the mistakes in crucial moments down the stretch. All 60 players who qualified for the season finale only had to win to become the Race to CME Globe champion.

Yang finished in style, making a 10-foot birdie putt. The 34-year-old from South Korea dropped her putter and cupped both hands over her face as a half-dozen players charged onto the green and soaked her with so much bubbly she wrapped a towel on her shoulders as she went to sign her card.

"I always want to win the first one in the U.S.," said Yang, who won her first LPGA title in South Korea and three others in Thailand. "It's a great honor to have my first victory here."

Yang finished at 27-under 261 to finish three strokes ahead of Hataoka (69) and Alison Lee (66), who was never closer than two shots along the back nine at Tiburon Golf Club. Lee, a 28-year-old American who's still winless on the LPGA Tour, closed out her season with three runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour and a victory in Saudi Arabia on the Ladies European Tour.

Yang trailed by three shots through six holes of the final round when she charged back into the mix with three birdies over a four-hole stretch. The pivotal shot was holing out her approach on the par-4 13th, the ball landing near the pin and then spinning back about six feet into the cup. Hataoka answered with a 10-foot birdie putt, and they were tied going to the final three holes.

That's when Hataoka, a 24-year-old from Japan, blinked first. Her birdie putt from the fringe ran some six feet by the hole, and the par putt caught the lip. That ended 35 straight holes without a bogey and left her one shot behind.

Yang broke by four shots the tournament record set two years ago by Jin Young Ko.

Lilia Vu, a two-time major champion this year and No. 1 in the women's world ranking, closed with a 65 to finish alone in fourth and picked up a valuable prize of her own as she won the points-based LPGA player of the year honor for the first time.

  photo  AP photo by Kamran Jebreili / Nicolai Hojgaard kisses his trophy after he won the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday in Dubai.

Great win for Dane in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Nicolai Hojgaard earned the biggest tournament title of his career after running off five straight birdies down the stretch to win the Europe-based circuit's season-ending DP World Tour Championship by two strokes.

The 22-year-old from Denmark delivered a clinic in iron play to set up close-range birdies from Nos. 13-17, shoot 8-under 64 and finish at 21-under 267 at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

That finish took Hojgaard past England's Tommy Fleetwood and Norway's Viktor Hovland, two of the players who acted as mentors to him in his first Ryder Cup last month. Spain's Jon Rahm and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy — multiple major winners and two of golf's global superstars — were in the field in Dubai, too.

Hojgaard beat them all.

"In this field, there's a lot of guys I look up to," he said. "It's hard to put into words. This one feels great."

Hojgaard has now won a tournament for three consecutive years on the European tour, but this was easily his biggest, earning him $3 million. Coming a few weeks after being a rookie member of the European team that rolled to a Ryder Cup victory against the United States in Italy, it has been a perfect end to the year for one of the most highly rated young players on the continent.

"The only thing missing was a win," Hojgaard said. "This is the sweetest way to finish the year."

Hojgaard was two shots behind Fleetwood walking off the 12th green after making bogey, but then came that run of birdies. Fleetwood and Hovland each closed with a 68 and shared second at 19 under with England's Matt Wallace (69), the 54-hole leader.

Hojgaard jumped to second place in the Race to Dubai rankings behind McIlroy, who had already been crowned as European golf's No. 1 player for the fifth time ahead of the finale. McIlroy closed with a 70 and finished seven shots out of the lead, while Rahm, the 2022 champion, shot a 66 and tied for fifth at 17 under.