Julian Suri, a US citizen born to a Mexican mother Lorena and Indian father Jagan Suri, is making waves at the world stage with consistent performances on the European Challenge Tour. Julian recently clinched his maiden professional title at the D+D Real Czech Challenge preceded by a second place finish in Open de Portugal. At the time of going into print, Julian was leading the Road to Oman rankings followed by a tied third result in the Swiss Challenge. Interestingly, the passion for sport runs in his blood. Julian is the great grandson of cricket legend Modavarapu Venkatamahipati Buchi Babu Nayudu (1868-1908), who is considered as the father of Tamil Nadu cricket. Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) conducts one of the longest running inter-state invitational tournaments in his name. Buchi Babu’s three sons — Venkataramanujulu, Baliah and C Ramaswami — carried on the cricket legacy. The subsequent generations followed suit and now Julian Suri, great grandson of Baliah, is beginning to make a mark on putting surfaces in Europe.
The 26-year-old feels his prowess in golf has a lot to do with the family’s sporting lineage. “When I was young, I would hear tales from my father on the exploits and impact my great grandfathers and uncles have made for sports in India. It is quite surreal to be belonging to a family that’s so respected,” Julian told Golf Digest India from Europe. Julian and his brother Devin both train under Daniel Carraher, who is credited for fuelling a turnaround in their respective games. Devin is currently the second highest ranked amateur in the state of Florida.
Julian, a Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan fan, is currently ranked 243rd in the Official World Golf Rankings. Julian spoke about his plans to break into world’s top-100 by end of 2017 and his ultimate aim to win Majors in an exclusive chat. Excerpts from an interview:
GDI: Cricket and tennis runs in your blood but what inspired you to take up golf?
JS: My dad and grandfather were pretty instrumental in starting me in golf and tennis when I was young, and growing up in the US, cricket was a bit of a tough sell! The biggest thing that steered my dad and I towards golf, and later my brother as well, was Tiger Woods exploding onto the professional golf scene and having such a significant impact on kids like me, who were interested in other sports, but soon gravitated toward golf. He made it so exciting to watch, and try to emulate the things he did on the golf course.
GDI: At what age did you pick up a club? How difficult/easy was the decision to turn pro?
JS: First picked up a club at the age of five, and started playing local tournaments in New York when I was six years old. The decision itself wasn’t that hard for me to make, because I knew for a long time that’s what I wanted to do. I would say around the time I was 15 or 16 years old was when I really knew that this is what I wanted to do with my career. I think that’s when I really started to try to become the best version of myself.
GDI: What is it that you most like about golf?
JS: While I really enjoy watching team sports, I would say I was always drawn so much more to individual sports like golf because there is no way to hide from a situation on the course, whether its positive or negative the heat is all on me. This motivates to work as hard as I do, and the clearest way to assess the quality of your efforts is by competing, and not relying on anybody else when you’re in your arena, on the course.
GDI: Being an American citizen what prompted you to explore the golfing circuit in Europe? Any particular reason behind it?
JS: I have always thought highly of the idea of travelling around the world doing what I love, and this decision has really provided me with the ability to do that. In addition I had a couple of friends who I had played golf with for a long time that had some success in Europe. They always talked about how much they enjoyed it, and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn how to do things on my own. Also, I saw the qualifying process as an easier route to climb up the world rankings.
GDI: You have already scripted a breakthrough win on the European Challenge Tour and come close to winning a couple of times on the higher rung European Tour. What is your ultimate target in golf?
JS: My ultimate target is to be at the top of the world golf rankings and win Majors. I feel the ceiling for my game is at that level, and so everyday I try to push myself to get a little bit better. Even after I win, I try to remind myself of how much further there is to go to reach my goals.
GDI: Have you visited India or your grandfather’s place in Chennai ever?
JS: I have visited India twice, once when I was 12, and once in 2013 to play the Hero Indian Open after I first turned pro. However the only places I have been are New Delhi and Bengaluru, so I haven’t been to Chennai but definitely something I hope to do in the near future!
GDI: Does being part of a family with a huge sporting legacy add any extra pressure upon you to perform? What do you do to keep yourself calm and composed during tournaments?
JS: No it doesn’t add any pressure, because I don’t play golf to fulfill some external legacy. I do it because I enjoy competing in the sport that I love. Of course some of the reason why I appreciate sports and competition would come from my upbringing and family background, but I wouldn’t say it adds anything to when I play in tournaments. I pretty much have my blinders on, almost like a tunnel vision when I play, so not much else is going on to me. To keep myself calm, I keep telling myself that pressure is a privilege, and that pressure can either make diamonds or burst pipes. I’ve always felt that if I channel those competitive vibes into executing, I focus much better on the task at hand, and it pushes me to actually play better. I enjoy those situations, and the reason I practice and train as hard as I do, is to be able to excel and trust myself in high stakes situations.
GDI: What are your goals for the season and which tournaments are you going to play in the next couple of months?
JS: I guess longer term goals would be to finish No. 1 in the Challenge Tour Road to Oman rankings, but honestly in the short term, its to win every time I play in a tournament. Because I know when I go in events with this mindset, it continues to push me to strive to become the best I can be, not just beat other players. I’m planning to play out the rest of the Challenge Tour schedule this year, and play in any European Tour events I get into, with the year long goal of getting into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings. But none of that happens without executing on weekly, daily, and even hole by hole or shot by shot basis.
CLUBS IN THE GOLF BAG
- Irons – Nike Vapor 4-PW
- Driver –Taylor made M1 460 9.5
- Putter –Scotty Cameron Newport prototype
- Wedge –Titlest Vokey wedges , 52, 58, 62
- Woods –Taylor Made M2 16.5