Nobilo: Surprised to be trailing again


MELBOURNE, Australia – To International assistant captain Frank Nobilo the Day 1 surprise at the Presidents Cup wasn’t Adam Scott and K.J. Choi’s convincing victory over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, although the 7-and-6 trouncing certainly qualified as a stunner.

For Nobilo the biggest surprise was his side’s continued inability to win an opening foursome session.

“It looked like 3-3 all day,” said Nobilo following play on Thursday. “We’ve been in this situation a lot and we think we know what it is.”

Despite Scott and Choi’s victory, the Internationals failed to win another match, dropping their opening foursome record to 3-5-1. “If you’re ahead after Day 1 it makes your job statistically a lot easier,” Nobilo said.

Nobilo said the mood in the International team room was high despite the deficit and he and captain Greg Norman’s confidence in their pairings was evident when they announced their Day 2 fourball draw.

Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa – who lost to Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, 4 and 2 – will again be first out, and Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley who lost a late lead and halved their match with Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, will be paired again on Friday.

“They are pretty resilient,” Nobilo said. “The good news is we have a pretty strong team.”

According to Nobilo, Els – who has won three times at Royal Melbourne – will remain with Ishikawa to help the Japanese player navigate the humps and bumps of Royal Melbourne and a new wind that is forecast for Friday.

“Royal Melbourne is a major championship golf course,” he said. “If you make a mistake on the wrong side, no matter how good your skills are, you can put yourself in an impossible spot.”

Nobilo also said he was a little surprised U.S. captain Fred Couples split up Woods and Stricker, who went undefeated at Harding Park in 2009, for Friday’s fourball session. “I imagine if they played well (on Thursday) they would have been kept together,” he said.

Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk’s play on Day 1 – they beat Retief Goosen and Robert Allenby, 4 and 3 – didn’t surprise Nobilo, at least not in retrospect.

“Phil’s won three green jackets and those greens (Augusta National) have the same designer (Alister MacKenzie),” he said. “It was a good pairing that you wouldn’t think about until it was on paper and you realize it makes sense.”

Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Thursday 5:30PM-midnight, Friday 3PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)