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Golf-After Masters Aberg planning major encore at PGA Championship

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By Steve Keating

May 15 (Reuters) -After a runner-up finish in his major debut at the Masters, Ludvig Aberg has left himself a tough act to follow but the Swedish sensation said on Wednesday he is feeling no pressure coming into this week's PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

Having coolly handled the Augusta spotlight and already experienced the Ryder Cup pressure cooker, the 24-year-old has displayed nerves of steel almost from the moment he turned professional last June, shooting from outside the top 3,000 at the start of 2023 to world number six.

"I'm still doing a lot of firsts when I'm playing these tournaments," said Aberg, already a winner on both the PGA and DP World Tours. "Obviously this week is my first PGA Championship and only my second major.

"I'm feeling all these things that first-timers do and it's the same thing for me, so I try to focus on the golf.

"At the end of the day, this is what I've been wanting to do since I was a little boy and I love doing it."

Aberg has operated with unshakeable poise and not even a knee issue that forced him out of last week's PGA Tour stop in Quail Hollow was able to distract him.

The Swede said he will play with a knee brace at Valhalla but only as a precaution.

"I'm wearing a brace just for safety reasons, but it's nothing that's bothering me," said Aberg. "I'm focusing on the golf.

"Knee's good.

"It was more of a safety concern last week that I didn't play.

"I'm consulting with my doctors and I trust them with everything that I have, so it's not bothering me at all this week."

World number one Scottie Scheffler, with four wins in his last five starts, number two Rory McIlroy, riding the momentum from back-to-back PGA Tour wins and defending champion Brooks Koepka may be the betting favourites but right behind the three major winners lurks Aberg.

Aside from Aberg's record, the Jack Nicklaus designed layout, described as a "big boy" course that rewards the best ball strikers, plays right to the big-hitting Swede's strengths.

"I like to think that I can hit it high and long," said Aberg, which will be a huge plus with rain expected to make the layout play even longer. "It's a tough golf course.

"I think everyone is just trying to manage their game the best they can and see where it takes us on Sunday."

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis


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