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October 3 2013

12:54 PM

Internationals celebrate Couples' 54th

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The Ohio State band helps kick off The Presidents Cup.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Nick Price and his International Team had something special for U.S. Captain Fred Couples on the first tee at Muirfield Village before the 10th Presidents Cup got underway.

As the crowd sang "Happy Birthday," Price presented Couples with a cake made of cupcakes and decorated in the International colors of blue and gold. 

"This is really nice," Couples said. "I am 54 today so its a big day for me but more importantly this is pretty special."

The Opening Ceremonies were relative brief but big on pagentry as members of the Ohio State band marched up the first fairway. The band later broke formation to let one of its most famous graduates, Jack Nicklaus, walk through the gauntlet and take the gleaming gold Presidents Cup up to the first tee of his signature creation.

"We love you Jack," someone in the crowd yelled.

Nicklaus, who captained three U.S. Teams, joined Price, Couples, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and former President George W. Bush for the ceremonies. Also with the group was Chad Pfeifer, who won his third striaght Warrior Open for Wounded Veterans, overseen by the Bush Institute, last month.

Other dignitatires on hand included former International Captains David Graham (1994) and Peter Thomson (1996, 1998 and 2000), as well as former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman, European Tour Commissioner George O'Grady and Joe Louis Barrow, the executive director of The First Tee.

The boisterous crowd included members of the gold-and-green clad "Fanatics" who had made their presence known in Australia two years ago. And has it happened, Columbus resident and fellow Aussie Jason Day was in the first match and the Fanatics began singing "Oh, Happy Day."

U.S. Assistant Captain Davis Love III was slightly out of uniform as the Sea Island, Ga., resident was wearing a navy cap with the Atlanta Braves' A embroidered on the front. And it didn't take the former President long to notice.

"May I ask why you're wearing that hat," said the 43rd chief executive, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, as he reached out to shake Love's hand.

Bush, who looked relaxed and was wearing the U.S. red and navy uniforms, was a popular figure at the opening ceremonies.

"Boy, do we miss you," a fan called out after the crowd chanted "43, 43" when he was introduced.

Hunter Mahan, who was playing in the first match with Brandt Snedeker, found his wife Kandi and baby daughter, Zoe, in the crowd and brought them over to Bush, a fellow Texan.

Bush slipped back into politician mode and bent over to kiss Zoe, who was born in July, then posed for pictures with the entire family.

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