U.S. mascot: 'Sammy' the squirrel

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The true media star of the first day of the Presidents Cup wasn't Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Adam Scott.

World, meet Sammy. Sammy, this is the world.

U.S. captain's assistant Davis Love III started feeding a stray squirrel he found at the second hole at Muirfield Village, and the two more or less became friends.

"He rode around with me today," Love said later, after the U.S. had taken a 3½ to 2½ lead following the opening day of the competition.

An avid hunter and outdoorsman, the 49-year-old Love, a 20-time PGA Tour winner, kept the squirrel rested on his wrist as he carried out his duties during the matches.

He even took the animal into the Americans' team meeting room, and all of the players took a liking to it.

"My dad always picked up sticks for good luck, and he told me I had to keep it as long as were winning holes," Love said.

Steve Stricker's wife, Nicki, named him, "Sammy."

As Love drove in an electric cart watching the four-ball matches, he had the squirrel riding along, sitting in his lap. It provided a surreal scene as the matches ground to dramatic conclusions and the score inched closer and closer.

He/she (no one knows for certain) became an unofficial mascot.

As the day came down to the final match, with Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge fighting on the final hole but falling short in a 1-down loss to Stricker and Jordan Spieth, the squirrel was in the middle of the American players and their wives and girlfriends, who were watching the tense finish.

That's when Lindsey Vonn -- you may know her as a world-class skier or for her commercials and posters or for being Woods' girlfriend -- provided one of the most memorable images of the day.

While Woods stared from the hill near the 18th green, watching the action, Vonn playfully took the squirrel out of Love's right front pocket. She leaned behind Woods and carefully put the squirrel on his neck.

He didn't react for an instant, then, obviously annoyed, he tried to shrug the animal away while the rest of the American contingent -- including playing partner Matt Kuchar -- cracked up. The NBC cameras quickly returned to the action on the course.

"Tiger actually liked him," Love said. "And Lindsey loves him."

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."

After all the fanfare Thursday, Love told The Golf Channel that Sammy "slept in a box" on Friday night. Love then took the squirrel back to Muirfield Village on Friday, but the assistant captain didn't plan on carrying Sammy around for Day 2.

After consulting with an expert, Love told The Golf Channel that he planned to release Sammy back into the wild before Friday's foursomes began.

Information from ESPN.com's Farrell Evans and The Associated Press was used in this report.