Melbourne: Young Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa said on Wednesday he was thankful to have the experienced Ernie Els to guide him around Royal Melbourne when they partner each other at the Presidents Cup.
The 20-year-old world No.49 has missed valuable practice rounds ahead of Thursday's opening foursomes following his late arrival from playing in a Japanese tournament last weekend.
South African Els, who has played in all eight Presidents Cups, was Wednesday paired with Ishikawa for the Internationals against Americans Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in the first of six opening-day foursomes.
Internationals captain Greg Norman has helped Ishikawa's introduction to the classic sandbelt course by teaming him with 42-year-old Els, who shot 60 at Royal Melbourne on the way to winning the 2004 Heineken Classic.
Ishikawa, who won three points for the Internationals in their 2009 Presidents Cup loss to the US in San Francisco, only arrived at the course late Tuesday after flight delays from Tokyo.
"I'm really happy that Ernie is with me and that he knows a lot about the course and he tells me a lot about the course, how to attack the course and the game plan," Ishikawa said.
Norman believes Els's experience around Royal Melbourne may rub off on Ishikawa, who only played his first full practice round on Wednesday, a day before the curtain rises on the ninth Presidents Cup.
"The two of them are communicating extremely well about how to play the golf course," Norman said.
"Ryo has no fatigue issues. I only watched him play four or five holes and I didn't have any issues or concerns because Ernie was telling him where to hit it.
"A bit of experience for a guy who has come in as a rookie on Royal Melbourne, which is going to help him more, especially on the alternate shot.
"With Ernie telling him where to position the ball on the fairway or where to play his second shot in, it was a natural pairing as far as we could see it."
Norman said he also spoke with Ishikawa's caddie to help smooth his introduction to playing the course.
"I reiterated to Ryo's caddie, like I have to all of the other caddies, that you've got to play this golf course backwards. You've got to understand where the pin positions are to go at your tee shot."
Ishikawa said he now feels part of the International team after his debut at the 2009 Presidents Cup.
"I feel like compared to last time, I felt like I was not one of them, but this year, I feel like I'm one of them," he said.
"So my main goal is just to contribute to the International team's win."