Ludvig Aberg has chance to become first Masters rookie to win Green Jacket since 1979

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg shakes hands with his caddie
Sweden's Ludvig Aberg is within striking distance of the leaders - Reuters/Brian Snyder

There is no substitute for experience around Augusta National. Or so they say. Watching Ludvig Aberg play his third round on Saturday was to appreciate that sometimes there is no substitute for pure talent and a game unaffected by the sort of scar tissue which has built up for many of the veterans in the field.

The 24 year-old Swedish wunderkind – who was still at college this time last year lest we forget, who is playing in his first ever major let alone his first ever Masters – will head into Sunday’s final round at Augusta just three shots off the lead after a fabulous two-under par 70 on Saturday.

Let that sink in for a minute. Aberg is still in with a very decent shout of becoming the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win on his Masters debut.

If he does it, it would constitute one of the most extraordinary feats in golfing history.

Rookies simply aren’t meant to win at Augusta. Zoeller was only the second newbie to do so since Gene Sarazen won the second ever Masters in 1935. But Aberg has made a habit in his short career to date of defying convention.

In an interview with Telegraph Sport last autumn, after he was picked by Luke Donald for the European Ryder Cup team within three months of turning professional, Greg Sands, Aberg’s coach at Texas Tech, recalled a player almost freakishly able to withstand pressure.

Aberg had ended his days with the ‘Red Raiders’ the No 1-ranked amateur in the world, having made history by becoming the first player to secure his Tour card via collegiate merit as part of the new PGA Tour University programme, picking up a slew of records on the way. Sands said Aberg’s play, particularly in his final year, with all that was on the line, was simply astonishing. “I mean, we were the one programme with full PGA Tour status on the line,” he said. “He knew it was on his shoulders. That’s a lot for any kid to handle. But not only did he do it, he widened his lead. Basically playing for his dream, he was able to continue playing his normal game and not tighten up. I mean, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve seen it over four years.”

Whether he will tighten up on Sunday remains to be seen. But all the evidence we have seen so far this week suggests he will not. Aberg was the only player to break 70 on Friday, when the winds were gusting so much the rest of the field were having kittens. On Saturday, he was once again a beacon of calm; whether it was rolling in a 12-foot downhill breaking putt for birdie at the second, or stiffing one to three feet at the par-four fifth, it felt as if you were watching an Augusta veteran. You had to remind yourself he was only playing his third competitive round here. Tiger Woods has played 99.

Successive bogeys on 14 and 15, having taken a share of the lead with his fourth birdie of the day on 13, slightly tarnished the card. But that may be no bad thing. Even for Aberg, the pressure of leading the Masters heading into the final day might have been too great. At three back, he is right there.

Sands took to calling Aberg ‘Ken’ at Texas. “As in Barbie and Ken, just because he was such a model pro; 6ft 3in, athletic, good-looking.” Justin Rose conferred another nickname on his Ryder Cup teammate: “Stud.” It will be fascinating to see what the rookie from Eslov can do on Sunday.