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Mickelson takes more cautious path to lead

Phil Mickelson still isn’t thrilled about the new Torrey Pines, though he admitted, “(My) more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard.”

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Phil Mickelson still isn’t thrilled about the new Torrey Pines, though he admitted, “(My) more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard.”

SAN DIEGO — The way Phil Mickelson likes to play golf, he didn't have much fun Saturday at Torrey Pines. Based on how he needs to play the South Course, he was thrilled.

Mickelson gave up his swashbuckling style by playing it safe in the Farmers Insurance Open, making eight pars and a birdie on the back nine for 4-under 68 to give him a share of the lead with Bill Haas.

"This course doesn't reward you for taking on any challenge," Mickelson said.

Haas led alone until his wedge hopped off the firm 18th green and went just over the back on the par-5. He missed a 4-foot par and settled for 71.

They were at 12-under 204, a stroke ahead of Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson, who each eagled on the 18th to shoot 69.

Tiger Woods, who has not lost at Torrey Pines in seven years, was nowhere to be found.

On a course he once dominated, Woods shot 74, ending his streak of 21 straight rounds at par or better on the South Course in a tour event. He was eight shots behind.

Mickelson grew up in San Diego playing this course and won the Buick Invitational three times. Then Rees Jones revamped the South Course for the U.S. Open in 2008. Since then, Mickelson has not finished better than fourth and has criticized Jones for changing the nature of Torrey.

"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."

John Daly, who pulled within one shot of the lead early in the round, fell apart and shot 76.

Mickelson made only one birdie on back nine, though it was a dandy. With a breeze in his face at the par-3 16th, he hit 4-iron with a slight cut just in front of the green and saw it roll 6 feet away to the front flag.

To Haas, it was a sign of what he faces in today's final round.

"It was a shot that I don't have," he said. "And if I did have it, I wouldn't try it."

EUROPEAN: Paul Casey shot 6-under 66 and Peter Hanson had 67 to share the third-round lead at the Volvo Champions in Riffa, Bahrain. They were at 16-under 200 with Darren Clarke (67) and James Kingston (67) a shot back. Miguel Angel Jimenez, back with a new putter after breaking one in two midway through the second round, was fifth at 202 after shooting 69.

CHAMPIONS: Bernhard Langer hit an 8-foot birdie on No. 6 for four skins and $120,000, giving him and partner Mark O'Meara the lead halfway through the two-day Champions Skins Game, an alternate-shot team event in Kaanapali, Hawaii.

Mickelson takes more cautious path to lead 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 11:39pm]
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