GUIDONIA MONTECELIO – Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Åberg has the makings of a lasting Ryder Cup partnership for Europe.
The Scandinavian studs might never have a better session than the one they had on Saturday morning.
Their 9-and-7 win over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka took its place in Ryder Cup history as the biggest margin of victory in an 18-hole match.
For posterity, Hovland took a photo of the scoreboard beside the 11th hole at Marco Simone, where the blowout finished after just 2 hours and 20 minutes.
He couldn't quite believe it. Neither could Scheffler, who was seen a few minutes later wiping away tears and being comforted by his wife.
The world No. 1 and Koepka, a five-time major champion, were taken down by a guy playing his second Ryder Cup and another — Åberg — who only turned professional four months ago.
“Obviously we make a strong team,” said Hovland, the world No. 4. “Regardless, I think we could have met a lot of guys and we would have been tough to beat today.”
The Americans started double-double-bogey and were 4 down after four holes. Hovland and Åberg didn't even have to play particularly well in that run, but they kept the pressure on to go 7 up after nine holes and then 8 up after 10.
The match finished on No. 11 thanks to a concession by Scheffler and Koepka. The Europeans didn't even have to make a putt.
“We didn’t meet a sharp Scottie and Brooks,” Hovland said, “but we played some really nice golf.”
The previous record for foursomes was 7 and 6, most recently when Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley beat Luke Donald and Lee Westwood at Medinah in 2012. The record for a fourballs match is 7 and 5, while the singles record is 8 and 7.
Hovland, a 26-year-old from Norway, and Åberg, a 23-year-old rookie from Sweden who hasn't even played in a major, have been speaking their own language during their rounds, but they understand each other just fine.
They are getting to know each others' game, too, having already won Friday morning in the foursomes against Max Homa and Brian Harman, 4 and 3.
“It’s an unbelievable time for me to be here to play alongside one of the best players in the world in Viktor and to be playing against other world-class players,” said Åberg, who himself is being tipped as a future superstar after winning the European Masters this month and getting a Ryder Cup quicker than anyone in history after turning pro.
“Today was quite surreal at times. Almost pinch myself at times but obviously super happy with it and looking forward to this afternoon.”
There was something of a comedown for Åberg and Hovland in the afternoon fourballs, however.
Sent out in the lead match against Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa, the Scandinavians went 6 down and were in danger of making history for the wrong reasons this time.
Åberg won back-to-back holes to reduce the humiliation in a 4-and-3 loss.
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