Nobilo: Tiger where we want him


Note: Each day at the Presidents Cup, International vice captain and Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo will offer insight to the matches in a one-on-one interview with senior writer Rex Hoggard.

MELBOURNE, Australia – From International assistant captain Frank Nobilo’s point of view, Thursday’s high-profile clash of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker against Adam Scott and K.J. Choi wasn’t so much inevitability as it was in his team’s best interest.

“We were happy it was happening,” Nobilo said late Wednesday following a team meeting. “It’s better it is done on our terms then on the U.S. terms. Historically we thought (Woods) would go out first or close to last. Once we realized (U.S. captain Fred Couples) was going to hold him back we knew it would probably happen. It’s important to create something that works in your favor instead of against you.”

Nobilo said the only thing that surprised him and International captain Greg Norman was the pairing of veterans Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.

“It did surprise me in some respects,” he said. “I still haven’t really figured that out.”

The biggest surprise for the Americans may have been Norman’s pairing of Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa, who is playing in his second Presidents Cup and didn’t arrive at Royal Melbourne until Tuesday.

“In the end, if you play with someone who knows the course that helps,” said Nobilo in reference to Els’ knowledge of the sandbelt gem and his Presidents Cup experience. “Ryo, in fairness, has only played one practice round and Ernie is the elder statesman of the team. He seems to have embraced it with Ryo.”

The New Zealander was also confident his International side was better prepared for Thursday’s opening foursomes session. The Internationals have led just twice in eight matches after the first day of play.

“We haven’t had the best record on Day 1,” he said. “But the guys set themselves up better for that format (alternate shot). We’re a couple of days ahead of where we were in ’09 in that regard.”

Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Thursday 7:30PM-2AM, Friday 4PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)