HAVEN, Wis. — After three lopsided match-play sessions dominated by the Americans, the 43rd Ryder Cup turned tense, contentious and finally compelling late on a crisp fall day at wind-blown and sun-splashed Whistling Straits.
And yet the U.S. team owns a historic 11-5 lead and is just 3 1/2 points away on Sunday from reclaiming the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2016 at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn.
The Americans built on Friday's 6-2 lead with a third consecutive 3-1 session, this one Saturday morning's alternate-shot matches they dominated except for world No. 1 ranked Jon Rahm.
In the afternoon, the two sides split the four foursomes matches 2-2 on a day when players from both sides vanished from sight down steep man-made dunes — created by the late, great course architect Pete Dye — that tumble down to Lake Michigan.
It was also a day when players from both sides quibbled over short putts not conceded by their opponents, gesturing their opinion on multiple occasions.
Saturday afternoon's 2-2 split sends the Americans to Sunday's closing 12 singles matches with that 11-5 lead.
That 11-5 is the biggest lead the U.S. team has held over a European team after the first two days.
It also equals Europe's 11-5 lead entering Sunday's singles in 2004 at Oakland Hills in Michigan. Europe won by a record 18 1/2-9 1/2 the next day.
The United States led 10-4 late Saturday afternoon in 2012 before Europe's Sunday blitz sent the Cup back home with them.
The Americans have 10 of the world's top-13 ranked players and a combination of youth and experience that has made this Ryder Cup a promising new day for them.