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U.S. captain Fred Couples didn’t know what to make of Sammy.

“I carry a rabbit’s foot around,” he said. “I don’t know about a live squirrel.”

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AUSPICIOUS START: Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama made his first appearance in an international team competition and saved his best for the end.

He and teammate Adam Scott were 2 down with four holes left and 1 down on the final tee.

“Not that I was scared, but I knew that Adam was right behind me,” Matsuyama said through an interpreter.

On the par-3 16th, he hit his iron to 11 feet and made the birdie to his pull him and Scott to all-square with Bill Haas and Webb Simpson, who had led most of the day.

After Haas birdied the 17th hole, the International duo had to win the 18th to avoid losing the entire point.

At the uphill closing hole, Matsuyama struck a 161-yard approach shot that he almost holed. His ball ended up 2 feet away and the birdie won the hole and halved the match.

“It was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit,” the 21-year-old, first-year pro said.

In retrospect, he conceded that his first time playing in such a pressure-packed event affected him.

“I was really nervous today but playing with Adam helped,” he said. “To get a half-point today, I was very happy.”

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IN THEIR CUPS: Couples is credited with coming up with the bright idea to recognize the veterans of team competitions by putting a Presidents Cup insignia on players’ bags to represent each time they’ve participated.

Phil Mickelson has 10 (1994, ‘96, ‘98, 2000, ‘03, ‘05, ‘07, ‘11 and ‘13) on his bag, Woods eight (1998, 2000, ‘03, ‘05, ‘07, ‘09, ‘11 and ‘13), Stricker five (1996, 2007, ‘09, ‘11, ‘13), Hunter Mahan four (2007, ‘09, `011, ‘13), Zach Johnson three (2007, 2009, 2013), Webb Simpson, Kuchar and Bill Haas (two apiece, each in 2011 and `13) and rookies Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth one each.

Story Continues →