Aberg plays to the crowd as Fitzpatrick continues his return to form

Swedish ‘stud’ Ludvig Aberg plays to the crowd at Wentworth as Matt Fitzpatrick continues his return to form with superb 66 in the opening round at BMW PGA Championship

  • Ludvig Aberg shot five straight birdies in an impressive 68 on Thursday
  • Matt Fitzpatrick is two strokes behind first-round leader Marcus Helligkilde
  • All 12 of Europe’s Ryder Cup team are in action at the BMW PGA Championship

It might have been lost in the race to laud Ludvig Aberg, but there are another 11 players on Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team and it should not pass unnoticed that Matt Fitzpatrick seems to have rediscovered his best form at precisely the right time.

There were brief murmurings of concern through the summer when he embarked on a streak of results that read: T49, cut, T41, T66.

But those struggles of July and last month seem to be fading quickly into the background, with an excellent opening-round 66 at the BMW PGA Championship coming on the back of two top-three finishes and a ninth in his past three starts.

That six-under-par loop, built on eight birdies, meant Fitzpatrick was Donald’s leading performer on day one at Wentworth, two strokes back of the Danish leader Marcus Helligkilde, and two ahead of Aberg.

It is the latter who has rightly garnered the attention, owing to his astonishing climb from obscurity to a wildcard, and his new status was reflected in both his grouping here and the size of his galleries.

Ludvig Aberg shot five straight birdies in an impressive 68 at Wentworth on Thursday

Matt Fitzpatrick carded an excellent opening-round 66 at the BMW PGA Championship

With Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland for company, he compiled a 68 that was largely excellent — he shot five straight birdies from the 11th — but was pinned back when he lost a ball off the tee on the 17th. 

That was a rare error with the driver and rarer still was his admission of nerves, with the expectation around the 23-year-old growing by the day. Hovland’s contribution on Thursday was to call him a ‘stud’. 

Aberg said: ‘There were a little more people watching than I am used to. Not that many usually follow me round.

‘This morning when I woke up I was quite nervous and it would have been weird if I wasn’t. I tried to embrace it, have fun with the crowds and enjoy it. But it is a bit nerve-racking.’

All 12 of Donald’s team are playing in the DP World Tour’s flagship event, with Tyrrell Hatton prominent after a 68. Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry are each a shot back at three under, while McIlroy and Spain’s Jon Rahm are level par and one under respectively.

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