Pro’s ball finds par-4 green in one. The clubhead nearly did too

Ludvig Aberg breaks his driver at the Valero Texas Open.

Ludvig Aberg drove the 17th green despite breaking his driver.

NBC Sports/ESPN+

On the 17th hole Saturday, Ludvig Aberg’s club nearly did go as far as the ball. And that’s saying something because he drove the green on the par-4.

Aberg started Saturday at the Valero Texas Open, 10 shots off the lead in a tie for 34th. That meant he began his third round in one of the first groups off the 10th tee.

The world’s 9th-ranked golfer, who will only play his first career major next week at Augusta National, got his round at TPC San Antonio off to a solid start with two birdies already when he came to the 17th. Tournament officials decided to use a forward tee box and pin location for the third round, making the hole play 299 yards.

That’s when he did something he later told Golf Channel he hopes never to do again.

The long-hitting Swede took a mighty lash with his driver. His ball went flying toward the green. But so too did his clubhead!

“You don’t see that very often!” said the ESPN+ PGA Tour Live announcer.

Indeed! But even more rare was that Aberg hit nearly a perfect tee shot despite the equipment malfunction. His ball carried just short of hole high in the rough, took a kick left off the slope and trundled onto the green, settling 11 feet from the hole.

The clubhead didn’t quite make it that far, but it went flying soon after impact straight down the line, toward the hole. Luckily, no spectators were harmed as it landed straight ahead of the tee box, instead of deflecting toward the crowd of fans on the right.

“I never saw the ball in the air,” Aberg told NBC Sports. “I was just concerned where the head— where the clubhead was going. It was bizarre, I’ve never seen that happen.

He later added to reporters that he was just glad to find his ball in play, let alone on the green with a good look at eagle. Aberg was the only player to get his drive on the putting surface on 17 among players who started on 10.

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With the loss of the head and the inertia that mass creates, Aberg’s finish was a bit awkward, nearly resembling Arnold Palmer’s distinctive helicopter finish.

“After I hit it, obviously the head came off and I think I hit the shaft on my shoulder or something like that, so it just looked and felt very weird,” he said. “I guess a lot could have happened with the ball, I’m just glad it stayed inbounds.”

He revealed that the cause of the failure was not that his head was improperly screwed onto his shaft, but that the screw itself failed, the top coming off, allowing the clubhead to release.

Luckily, he had another driver in his locker. Per Rule 4.1a(2), if a club “is damaged during a round or while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a, except in cases of abuse, the player may repair it or replace it with another club. 

“I always bring backup, especially the woods because you never know what’s going to happen,” Aberg said. “Luckily I had it in my locker and the rules official was kind enough to go get it for me and I could use it on the next tee box.”

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Aberg said he had logged some rounds with that driver previously, so after two-putting for birdie on 17, his drive on 18 was not cold with the big stick. Yet, that doesn’t take away from how impressive his 325-yard bomb with a club straight out of his locker was. He was just in the edge of the rough, but easily got his second on the green, one of a handful of players to reach the 618-yard par-5 in two Saturday.

He didn’t make birdie there, but made three more on his second nine against one bogey to shoot 67 and vault 30 spots into solo fourth by the time he finished at six under.

“Something like that is just weird and it doesn’t happen too often,” he said. “I think it’s one of them where I have to laugh it off and do as best as you can on the next one. I felt like I did a lot of things well today, so I guess that’s one of them too.”

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at