LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Birdie putts kept falling, one on top of the other, until the Americans finally secured a Saturday lead in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1995 and players from both teams had nothing left to give.
The final hour defined the pressure and passion of the Ryder Cup. The final day will decide the winner.
Robert Karlsson concluded a gripping afternoon at Valhalla with his seventh birdie in 10 holes as he and fellow Swede Henrik Stenson scratched out a halve against Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan.
The Americans hung on for two key halves to split the afternoon fourballs session, taking a 9-7 lead into the final round of 12 singles, finally giving them a fighting chance to wrest the 17-inch gold chalice away from Europe.
"The golf has been incredible," U.S. captain Paul Azinger said. "My stomach is just churning."
Ian Poulter's eyes nearly popped out of his sockets after making a 30-inch birdie putt that looked like 30 feet. Poulter arrived as a controversial captain's pick, but he was the only European to play all four matches and he delivered three vital points.
Steve Stricker showed why his selection for his first Ryder Cup was a no-brainer. His match looked like a lost cause until Stricker escaped from the weeds and sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a halve.
One minute the Americans looked as if they might build its largest lead in nearly 30 years. The next minute, it looked as though they might not have the lead at all.
"It's a bumpy road at times, isn't it, to get to a victory," European captain Nick Faldo said. "So you come off the road a bit, and we're back on the road again now."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)