DUBLIN -- Tiger Woods sat in a cart with a tiny squirrel resting on his shoulder. Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel walked onto the first tee wearing wigs to make up for their bad haircuts. Fred Couples had cupcakes delivered to him by the opposing captain in honor of his 54th birthday.
Opening day at the Presidents Cup was unlike any other Thursday at Muirfield Village.
Except for the score.
After six hours of fourballs that produced 102 birdies, two eagles and a new celebrity named "Sammy the Squirrel," the Americans won the opening session for the fourth straight time, a solid start in their quest to maintain dominance in this event.
But it took a great save from a plugged lie in the bunker by Steve Stricker in the final match on the course to give the Americans a 31⁄2-21⁄2 lead. And despite being in another hole, this only felt like a divot to an International team inspired by the clutch play of Hideki Matsuyama, the South African duo of Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, and the refusal to be spooked from trailing early in every match.
"There's plenty of heart on the team," Adam Scott said. "And think we should take a lot of that."
The critical part could be today with six foursomes matches.
The Americans have won the last four times outright, and they have a 31-13 advantage in the more difficult alternate-shot format. Price kept his teams together, while Couples kept four of his six teams intact.
Playoff panel: Southern California athletic director Pat Haden, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich are expected to be members of the committee that will chose the four teams that will play for the national championship when the College Football Playoff starts in 2014.
CBS.com has reported that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez and West Virginia AD Oliver Luck also are expected to be on the committee.
Stoops questions SEC: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is questioning the overall strength of the Southeastern Conference.
Stoops, according to a report in The Oklahoman, smiled on Wednesday while sarcastically discussing the performances of SEC defenses this season. The Sooners coach had previously said much of the league's reputation was driven by "propaganda."
Future UT opponent: Arkansas State has announced a home-and-home series with the University of Toledo.
ASU athletic director Terry Mohajir said Thursday that the Red Wolves will play in the 2015 and 2016 seasons against the Mid-American Conference Rockets.
The first game will be Sept. 26, 2015, at Toledo and the second game is to be Sept. 3, 2016, in Jonesboro.
Series buy out: Central Michigan says N.C. State is buying out the finale of a three-game football series between the schools, meaning next year's game in Mount Pleasant won't be happening.
The teams played at N.C. State this year and in 2011. They were supposed to play at CMU next season.
CMU says N.C. State has agreed to pay $350,000 for ending the series.
Freeman released: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released quarterback Josh Freeman, one week after benching the fifth-year pro in favor of rookie Mike Glennon.
The Bucs (0-4) released the 25-year-old after contacting every NFL team in an unsuccessful attempt to trade him. The club must pay him the remaining $6.25 million of his salary for this season.
Considering surgery: Ahmad Bradshaw has a decision to make.
He could have season-ending neck surgery or he could let the injury to heal on its own, a person with knowledge of the medical options.
Ticket requests: FIFA says it has received applications for more than 4.5 million tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, an "impressive total" a week before the first phase of sales ends.
Brazilians made 77 percent of the requests, for about 3.4 million tickets. Argentines applied for 223,686 tickets and Americans for 175,122.