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Rapidly rising Suri confident entering Qatar Masters

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Having flirted with the lead in two PGA Tour events this year, Julian Suri is full of confidence entering the Qatar Masters starting Thursday.

The 26-year-old American started 2017 on the European Challenge Tour but graduated to the main tour following his win in the Made in Denmark tournament in August. Ranked 1,148th in the world at the start of the year, he finished 63rd.

Suri started this season by finishing tied for 68th at Pebble Beach and tied for 63rd at Torrey Pines, but was flirting with the lead in both tournaments before the weekend.

"The courses were a little more challenging there. The rough was up and the greens were firmer," he said Wednesday. "You have to be on your game all the time. You cannot make any mistake, otherwise you get penalized. It was a good wake-up call, especially early in the year. It showed me that I need to work on a few things.

"I think just playing tough courses against the strongest fields in the world is what you want," Suri added. "You just want to test your game and if I did not play on courses like that, I would not get the feedback that I need to work on my game. That is what helps you progress as a player."

Suri also got a taste of Tiger Woods mania at Torrey Pines when he played in the group in front of the 14-time major champion.

"To see the thousands of people lining up to see him was a pretty cool experience that you can't simulate. You just got to throw yourself in there," Suri said. "Obviously, he has brought a lot of excitement to the game, but along with that comes all the attention. To see how he had to deal with all the people over the past 20 years, if possible, it only increases my respect for him."

Also in the field this week are India's Shubhankar Sharma, the Race to Dubai leader, and England's Chris Wood, a past champion in Doha who finished second in Oman last week. Korea's Jeung-hun Wang is the defending champion.

Updated February 21, 2018

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