Rookie Ludvig Aberg of Sweden turned pro in June but has not yet won on the PGA Tour, but that might happen soon.
The 24-year-old Aberg, who won the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour in September, shot a bogey-free, six-under-par 64 in breezy conditions to take a one-stroke lead over rookie Eric Cole of Palm Springs, Sam Ryder and Denny McCarthy midway through the 14th RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.
All players in the field played the Plantation Course and the Seaside Course once each on the first two days of the tournament, but the last two rounds will be played exclusively on the host Plantation Course.
“I know my capabilities and I know my strengths,” said Åberg, who played well enough to earn a spot on the winning European Ryder Cup team this year. “But also, to be able to do it this quickly, probably not. It’s been so much fun. I still pinch myself in the morning whenever I wake up, that I actually get to do this for a living, but it’s really cool and I’m looking forward to a bunch of years ahead of me.
“I feel like I’ve been striking the ball quite well, which obviously is nice in the wind, which is quite tricky to kind of maneuver around. I made a few big par putts today … and it’s nice to get those momentum putts and to keep the round going a little bit. There are no guarantees, but if I keep doing what I did today, I like my chances to win.”
Aberg, who carded a bogey-free, five-under-par 67 on the Plantation Course in round one, made three straight birdies through No. 7 and added three more birdies on the back nine to record a 36-hole score of 11-under-par 131.
Ryder holed out for an eagle on the last hole and added six birdies in a 7-under 65 on the Plantation Course, while Cole started at No. 10 and birdied five straight holes through No. 18 in a 4-under-par 66 on the Seaside Course, and McCarthy had a bogey-free 67 on the Seaside.
“That’s really what propelled me through the fall,” Ryder said of trying to climb into the top 60 of the FedEx Cup rankings to set himself up for next year, and right now he is projected to be No. 53. “My goal has been to try to have a good Fall and play my way into the first couple Signature Events next year.
“I feel like that’s just going to be a really good way to start the year.”
Matt Kuchar, who has won nine times on the PGA Tour including the 2012 Players Championship, totaled 68 on the Plantation Course and is two shots behind in a big tie for fifth with Tyler Duncan, who eagled the 18th hole on the Plantation Course and added six birdies in a 65; Peter Kuest, who carded a bogey-free 66 on the Seaside Course; Ben Kohles, who also eagled the 18th hole on the Plantation Course and added four birdies in a 67, and Austin Eckroat, who made three straight birdies through No. 17 in a 68 on the Seaside Course.
Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, who won The RSM Classic in 2016, shot a bogey-free 66 on the Seaside Course and is three down in a huge tie for 10th with Taylor Montgomery, who had a bogey-free 65 on the Seaside; defending champion Adam Svensson of Canada, who eagled No. 18 in a 66 on the Plantation; Kelly Kraft, who posted a 65 on the Seaside; Matt NeSmith, who put up a bogey-free 63 on the Seaside; Nicholas Lindheim, who shot a bogey-free 66 on the Seaside; Adam Schenk, who posted a bogey-free 66 on the Plantation; Brendon Todd, who had a bogey-free 66 in the Seaside; Ben Griffin, who came in with a 67 on the Plantation; Robert Streb, who finished at 68 on the Plantation; Cameron Young, who wound up with a bogey-free 68 on the Seaside, and Greyson Sigg, who made four birdies down the stretch in a 68 on the Plantation.
Chris Kirk, who won the 2013 RSM Classic, is tied for 32nd after a 67 on the Seaside Course, while Camilo Villegas of Colombia, who won the World Wide Technology Championship last week in Los Cabos, Mexico, totaled 70 on the Plantation Course and is in a tie for 44th that includes Kevin Kisner, who won this event in 2015, and shot 67 on the Seaside Course.
This is the seventh and final tournament of the inaugural PGA Tour Fall Series.
There are two unofficial PGA Tour events left on the schedule this year, the Hero World Challenge which is hosted by Tiger Woods on the Albany Golf Course in New Providence, The Bahamas, starting on Nov. 30, and the Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., which begins on Dec. 8.
The 2024 PGA Tour season will start, as usual, with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, which will begin on Jan. 4, followed by the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, which will kick off on Jan. 11.
For complete results and third-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard