Home' The Wellingtonian : November 24th 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 24, 2011
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Nobilo a big figure in world golf
Happy memories: Frank Nobilo, left, encourages Greg turner during their 1998 Presidents Cup heroics.
Watching the Presidents
Cup golf over the week-
end got me to thinking
about Frank Nobilo, who was
Internationals captain Greg
That position was a pointer to
Nobilo's standing in world golf.
After our two Major champion-
ship winners, Bob Charles and
Michael Campbell, Nobilo is the
best performed New Zealand
In a professional career
stretching from 1979 to 2003, he
won 15 tournaments -- one in the
United States, five on the
European tour, two in Asia, one in
Australia and a variety of others,
including two New Zealand PGA
During his prime he was a con-
tender in all four Majors.
His best finishes were fourth in
the Masters (1996), eighth in the
PGA Championship (1996), ninth
and 10th in the US Open (1994
and 95) and 10th in the British
Since he retired from pro golf,
Nobilo, now 51, has become a fam-
iliar broadcasting voice. He works
for the Golf Channel's Champions
Tour and covers the PGA tour.
Though I've always found
Nobilo helpful, he developed a
curmudgeonly, and I recall one
time at Paraparaumu when he
and Greg Turner professed some
irritation at the media's continued
infatuation with Bob Charles,
then 20 years past his best.
Nobilo the television commen-
tator is a revelation. He is humor-
ous on occasion, incisive and ever
He commanded the respect of
Internationals team players such
as Ernie Els, Adam Scott, KJ Choi
and Jason Day in Melbourne dur-
ing the Presidents Cup. All sought
him out for advice.
Greg Norman must have
enjoyed having him as his deputy
in the 2009 Presidents Cup in San
Francisco to appoint him to the
role again this year.
Nobilo's an interesting mixture.
He's of Croat and Italian descent
and, of course, his surname is syn-
onymous with a leading New Zea-
land winery -- he is an ambassa-
dor for The House of Nobilo.
Sturdily built, it seemed while
he was at St Peter's College in
Auckland that he might become a
top rugby union or league player.
However, after he won the New
Zealand amateur golf title at just
18, his career path was set.
Nobilo turned pro the following
year and enjoyed a lucrative time
on the European tour.
He finished in the top 15 on the
order of merit for nine straight
years, before switching to the US
One of his great moments was
in the 1998 Presidents Cup, the
only time the Internationals have
Internationals captain Peter
Thomson paired the two New Zea-
landers, Turner and Nobilo, and
on the first morning they beat
David Duval and Mark O'Meara,
No 1 and 3 in the world. Nobilo
sank a 70-foot whopper on the
final green to secure victory.
Turner and Nobilo also beat
Davis Love III and Justin Leon-
ard. It was the most memorable of
Nobilo's three Presidents Cup
His career never really
recovered from a bizarre accident
in 1998 when an errant tee shot in
Florida smashed him over the left
eye. The injury required 30
It's good to see him back in the
golf spotlight, so obviously
appreciated by the game's leading
players. Perhaps eventually he'll
even be accorded the respect he
deserves by his countrymen.
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