Sooner or later, every professional golfer who competes on a global basis arrives at a tour venue, ready to begin preparation for a tournament, only to find that the airline has misplaced the tools of his trade.
Julian Suri of St. Augustine has been especially snake-bit in that regard — including Monday, the beginning of the biggest week of his professional career as he plays in his first major, the Open Championship, at Royal Birkdale beginning on Thursday.
Suri arrived in Southport, England, from Sardinia, where he tied for 23rd in the Italian Challenge. His clubs didn’t, for the fourth consecutive week.
“It’s been kind of a pain,” said the Bartram Trail High School and Duke graduate, who leads the European Challenge Tour in earnings and has risen to No. 218 on the World Golf Rankings. “But the guys in the equipment trucks are working on putting together a set for me so I can practice (on Tuesday) and hopefully my clubs will get here by tomorrow night.”
At last report, Suri’s sticks were in Rome. He’s also not alone among players who still hit Nike clubs. Kevin Chappell also arrived in England without his bag.
What makes his issue a bit problematic is that Suri still plays Nike irons. The company went out of the golf business late last year and does not have an equipment truck at pro tournaments. However, other manufacturers keep some Nike iron clubheads on hand for the players on their pro staff.
For example, Suri hits the Taylor Made M1 driver, Taylor Made woods and Titlest wedges. Between those two trucks, he believes they can put together a set of Nike irons.
“There are some Nike heads floating around,” he said. “The guys will get it done. It’s just that I lost a day of practice.”
Helping compensate for that is that Suri’s caddie, John McClure, has played Royal Birkdale several times as an amateur and budding professional. McClure, a native of Northern Ireland, was on the Irish National Amateur team. He and Suri have worked together for the last month, including the 36-hole Open qualifier at which Suri medaled in rain and 40-mph winds.
“He’s walking the course today and he knows it very well,” Suri said. “He’s played competitively at Royal Birkdale and he’s going to be a huge help for me.”
Suri said he went to the course to register and said his biggest thrill was seeing the familiar huge yellow Open scoreboard by the 18th green.
“That was pretty cool,” he said. “I got some goosebumps looking at that.”
Suri will play with Robert Dinwiddie and Adam Hadkinson, both of England, in the first two rounds. They tee off at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday and 11:16 a.m. on Friday. They are the last threesome to tee off in the second round.