MEDINAH, Ill. -- Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley helped stake the Americans to their biggest lead in the Ryder Cup in more than 30 years. Ian Poulter, eyes bulging, at least gave Europe some momentum over the final frantic hour Saturday at Medinah Country Club.
Right when it looked as if the Americans were a lock to win back the cup, Poulter birdied his last five holes to win a crucial point and keep everyone guessing heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches.
The Americans still had a big lead, 10-6. Europe at least had hope.
"That gives us a chance," European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said after watching Poulter stay undefeated in this Ryder Cup by rolling in one last birdie putt from 12 feet. "It's been done before."
Only one team has ever rallied from four points behind on the final day -- the United States at Brookline in 1999. Olazabal remembers it well. He was in the decisive match when Justin Leonard rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.
Olazabal borrowed a page from that American team at Brookline by loading the top of his singles lineup with his best players. Luke Donald leads off against Bubba Watson, followed by Poulter against Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy against Bradley and Justin Rose against Mickelson.
U.S. captain Davis Love III put Tiger Woods -- winless in the Ryder Cup for the first time going into Sunday -- in the anchor position against Francesco Molinari.
The final two best-ball matches Saturday were a showcase of what the Ryder Cup is all about -- one brilliant shot after another.
Donald and Sergio Garcia were on the verge of blowing a 4-up lead to Woods and Steve Stricker, hanging on when Donald matched two birdies with Woods, including a tee shot into the 17th that plopped down 2 feet from the cup.
Woods and Stricker lost all three of their matches, even though Woods made five birdies on the back nine for the second straight day.
Woods was thinking more of the big picture.
"Being up four is nice," he said. "We are in a great spot right now."
Poulter and McIlroy were 2 down with six holes to play against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson when McIlroy made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th, and Poulter took it from there.
"We had to make birdies, and wow! Five in a row. It was awesome," said Poulter, who raised his Ryder Cup record to 11-3-0.
It's also been awesome for Mickelson and Bradley, who matched a record for largest margin with a 7-and-6 win over Donald and Lee Westwood in the morning alternate-shot matches.
Mickelson and Bradley have been so dominant that they have yet to play the 18th hole in any of their three matches.
They didn't play in the afternoon, part of the master plan by U.S. captain Davis Love III to make sure his players were fresh for Sunday.
Woods didn't play in the morning matches.
"I'm one of the older guys, and it's nice to get a little bit of rest," he said.