Haas, Mickelson tied for lead; Tiger falters

DOUG FERGUSON - AP Golf Writer
Tiger Woods walks through the gallery at Torrey Pines during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament in  San Diego, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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Tiger Woods walks through the gallery at Torrey Pines during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament in San Diego, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011.

Phil Mickelson had another easy time with the South Course at Torrey Pines and is one round away from winning on the course that once felt like home.

Despite making only one birdie on the par 5s, Mickelson shot a 4-under 68 and was tied with Bill Haas going into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

"This course doesn't reward you for taking on any challenge," Mickelson said. "My more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard."

Mickelson and Haas were at 12-under 204, a stroke ahead of Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson, who each made eagle on the 18th.

Tiger Woods shot himself out of the tournament by making careless mistakes. He shot a 2-over 74, ending his streak of 21 rounds at par or better on the South Course in PGA Tour events. Woods wound up eight shots behind.

His start to a new season brought out a familiar result. Just like so much last year, Woods goes into a final round out of contention on a course where he once dominated. Woods made bogey from the second fairway with a wedge in his hand, and his day didn't improve. He shot a 2-over 74, ending his streak of 21 straight rounds at par or better on the South Course in a tour event.

"I did not play well at all today," said Woods, who was eight shots behind. "It was a struggle all day, and I finally found something at 16. But 15 holes already had gone by, so that was pretty frustrating."

Mickelson's frustrations are entirely different, only at least he felt like he was winning the battle.

Torrey Pines always felt like home to Mickelson, who grew up in San Diego playing this public gem along the Pacific bluffs. He won the Buick Invitational three times, the last title coming 10 years ago. And then Rees Jones came in to revamp the South Course to get ready for the U.S. Open in 2008.

Since then, Mickelson has not finished better than fourth, and he has criticized Jones for changing the nature of Torrey.

Mickelson, whose reputation has been built on taking on risks, decided to go a different route.

"I love playing aggressive," he said. "I think people want to see birdies and they want to see bogeys. They want to see us attacking holes trying to get it close. And this course just doesn't reward you for taking any risk. In fact, it penalizes you. That's why I've kind of steadily worked my way up without too many mistakes."