Mickelson, Haas tied for lead at Torrey Pines

Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot off the 16th in third round play at the Farmers Insurance Open...

Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot off the 16th in third round play at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California on January 29, 2011. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)

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, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

LA JOLLA, CA - Phil Mickelson fired a four-under 68 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead after three rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Mickelson, a three-time winner of this event, had five birdies and a bogey on the South Course to move to 12-under 204. He leads after three rounds of a tournament for the first time since the 2009 WGC-CA Championship.

Second-round leader Bill Haas had a chance to grab sole possession of the lead heading into Sunday, but missed a four-foot par putt at the par-five 18th to fall even with Mickelson. Haas entered the day with a two-stroke lead, but shot only a one-under 71 with four birdies and three bogeys.

The defending Masters champion, Mickelson is making an excellent 2011 PGA Tour debut. He's likely to be favored to win on Sunday with his track record of third-round leads; out of 33 such situations on the PGA Tour, he's won 25 times, including this tournament in 2000.

"I'm just playing it much more conservative because the reward isn't there," Mickelson said. "This course doesn't reward you for taking on any challenge. And my more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard."

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, who is also making his 2011 PGA Tour debut at this event, had one of his worst days on a course where he's had so much success. Woods, who has won the last five tournaments in which he's appeared at Torrey Pines, stumbled to a two-over 74 and is eight shots back at four-under 212.

Woods never got going, living in the bunkers early and often en route to three bogeys in the first five holes. He had two birdies before the front nine ended, but managed just a bogey in a birdie-less back nine that left him well off the pace.

"I couldn't get anything going on the back nine, but that was the goal of the back nine," Woods said. "I just didn't make it happen. I didn't swing the club very well at all. Didn't feel comfortable...until 16. By then, it's too late, and the damage had already been done."

Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson both eagled the par-five 18th to move into a tie for third at 11-under 205. Anthony Kim is in fifth at 10-under after shooting a one-under 71 on Saturday, while last week's Bob Hope Classic winner Jhonattan Vegas (69) is sixth at minus-nine.

"It will be an interesting day tomorrow because Bill Haas is playing some great golf, and Bubba's got a lot of creativity," Mickelson said of Sunday's challenge.

Mickelson and Haas broke free from a pack of players around the turn and went neck-and-neck down the stretch in search of the lead.

Both players were tied at 11-under when Haas drained a 10-foot birdie putt at the 10th to move one stroke ahead.

Haas, though, quickly stumbled, hitting his tee shot at the 11th into the bunker, which resulted in a bogey and another tie.

Mickelson was unable to push ahead due to his inability to find the fairway consistently. On the 10th, his tee shot went into the rough, and he got up- and-down out of the left greenside bunker for par.

He did the same out of another greenside bunker for a par save at the 12th and hit his third shot at the par-five 13th to 51 feet, which ended in the fourth of six consecutive pars.

Haas, meanwhile, was able to take advantage of the 13th with a two-foot birdie putt to regain the lead. He maintained his one-shot advantage with a 26-foot birdie putt at the 15th, as Mickelson almost simultaneously birdied the par- three 16th.

Mickelson had a chance to tie, but a 16-foot birdie putt at the 17th lipped out, but Haas made the final mistake with his four-foot miss on the 18th to end with a bogey.

"I played okay. Obviously it wasn't a 66 like the day before," Haas said. "Got it to two-under and disappointed with the six at the last, but I'm in a decent position for tomorrow."

Haas got off to a slow start with a bogey at No. 3 before birdies on Nos. 9 and 10, while Mickelson caught up to the second-round leader with birdies at the first, fourth, seventh and ninth. He bogeyed the second.

NOTES: Haas has held two third-round leads, at the 2010 Viking Classic and 2010 Bob Hope Classic. He won both tournaments ... Defending champion Ben Crane fired a two-over 74 and is tied for 13th at six-under ... Woods' other over-par round came at the 2002 Buick Invitational's second round, where he shot a 77 ... Haas has never finished better than tied for 11th at this event.


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