Fun-Filled, Dramatic First Day at Presidents Cup

Both the American and International teams had some laughs and some thrills on the opening day of the 10th Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village.

Two of the five South Africans on the International team - Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel - walked onto the first tee for their match with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley wearing wigs to compensate for their supposed bad haircuts.

Oosthuizen said the ploy was to relax his teammates. "I think it was just to get everyone's nerves a bit settled. It was just a fun thing we wanted to do, and I think we'll keep our hair."

American captain Fred Couples later noted, "That was pretty fun on the first tee what Charl and Louis did. I don't know where they got those wigs, but their haircuts that they got, even though they didn't like them, sure looked better than those wigs."

Something certainly worked for them as Oosthuizen and Schwartzel took charge of their match on the 11th hole and led the rest of the way en route to a big 2 and 1 win.

Early on Thursday USA vice-captain Davis Love III picked up a small squirrel on the second hole and kept it the rest of the way for good luck. It quickly became the team's mascot.

The furry rodent did its part early as the Americans were winning five of the six four-ball matches before a weather delay sent the two teams off the course for nearly an hour and a half. When play resumed, it was the Internationals who were recharged by the break as they were able to end the day trailing only 3 to 2.

"It was good luck until the break at least," the North Carolinian said of the lucky squirrel. "My dad always picked up sticks for good luck, and he told me I had to keep it as long as we were winning holes."

"I carry a rabbit's foot around a lot, I don't know much about a squirrel or a live squirrel, but it was pretty funny," Couples said.

Thursday was Couples' 54th birthday and International captain Nick Price had celebratory cupcakes delivered to the Seattle native to help keep the competitive convivial.

At the end of the day and after six hours of four-ball matches, there were a total of 102 birdies, two eagles and a clutch up-and-down out of a plugged lie in a bunker beside the 18th green by Steve Stricker that gave the Americans their final point of the day.

Love thought Thursday - the first of four days - was a productive and enjoyable. "I saw a lot of good golf, and it was a lot of fun," he said.

Couples concurred Thursday night. "This thing is going to get tighter and tighter as we go. I saw Tony Johnstone out there a few times and we were talking about being under stress and watching the guys play. But again, like Davis said, there were a lot of holes won, but there were so many holes that someone would make a birdie on top of whoever the team was that made a birdie where you thought you were going to win the hole; it just was fun to watch.

"It was a long day. Look, it's 8:00 almost, and the guys are ready to get back and go to bed. But for . . . us, it was fun to watch."