Golf-Stars align for halfway leader Aberg at U.S. Open

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(Reuters) – Sublime Swede Ludvig Aberg claimed a one-stroke halfway lead in a dream debut U.S. Open on Friday but said his biggest “pinch-me moment” at Pinehurst might be playing alongside the stars he has long admired.

The tricky North Carolina course humbled some of the biggest names in the sport this week but could not slow down the 24-year-old Aberg, who had three birdies and two bogeys for a one-under-par 69 to reach five under on the week.

“Sometimes I have to stop for a little bit and think about how fortunate I am to be able to do this at this level,” said Aberg.

“To be able to play these tournaments, to be able to play with the guys that I’ve watched on TV for such a long time is definitely a pinch-me moment.”

The Masters runner-up has enjoyed a tremendous run since collecting his first win on the PGA Tour in November at the RSM Classic, finishing in the top 10 on six occasions this year.

He put in work with his swing coach earlier in the week that has clearly paid off, as he found the fairways with laser-like accuracy, and his putter has worked to his advantage as well.

“As a golfer, you’re always going to have tendencies. You’re always going to have something in your swing that you’re going to work on,” he told reporters. “And that’s the case for me, as well. We worked on those tendencies.”

While he is still in some ways a new kid on the block, Aberg has the benefit of having played at Pinehurst in the U.S. Amateur in 2019, a humbling experience that prepared him for the major.

“I remember it was one of my first experiences coming over and playing a really hard golf course in America, and I was like, ‘Is this what golf in America is like?’,” he said. “Luckily it’s not like this every week.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by William Mallard)

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