SAN DIEGO – Five things to look out for in Sunday’s final round at the Farmers Insurance Open:
1.) Phil Mickelson is the 54-hole co-leader at the Farmers Insurance Open, his hometown event. Mickelson shot 68, matching Saturday’s low score, to tie Bill Haas (71) for the lead at 12 under par. They’re one shot ahead of Bubba Watson (69) and Hunter Mahan (69).
Mickelson is seeking his fourth victory at Torrey Pines, but first since 2001. He hasn’t been shy about sharing his disdain for Rees Jones’ 2002 re-design of Torrey Pines’ South Course. Like the layout or not, Mickelson said he has learned how to play it, which is why he’s leading.
“The biggest thing for me is I’m not taking on anywhere near as much risk,” 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 the top of the leaderboard.”
Mickelson is coming off a tie for 37th at last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship. Not a good finish, but he spent time with instructor Butch Harmon, who serves as a commentator for Sky Sports, while there.
Mickelson has hit just 15 of 42 fairways this week, but 42 of 54 greens, second-best in the field.
2.) After a sloppy bogey on No. 18, Bill Haas enters the final round tied for the lead with Mickelson.
This would be the third PGA Tour victory of Haas’ career, and the third in his past 27 starts. It took Haas 140 starts to collect his first Tour victory, at last year’s Hope.
Haas has finished first or second in three of his past six PGA Tour starts.
When asked for a reason behind his good play in the past year, Haas said, “I don’t feel a whole lot different. Physically, I feel about the same. I’ve still got the same stuff going on out there in my head.”
Haas will have his hands full trying to overtake Mickelson, the hometown favorite, but can take solace in this statistic: Haas has beaten Mickelson three of the four times they’ve been paired together.
3.) Torrey Pines South has played firm and fast over the first three days. Players have compared the setup to that of the 2008 U.S. Open. Saturday’s low score was 68, and just eight players broke 70. Rain is forecast for Sunday, though, which would make this already long course play even longer.
“The greens are the firmest I’ve seen these greens since the Open, and this time of year it’s unheard of,” said Brandt Snedeker, who’s in seventh place.
4.) Watson finished birdie-eagle (hitting 7-iron into the green at the par-5 18th) to shoot 69 and get into a tie for third with Mahan, who also eagled No. 18. Watson is coming off a missed cut at last week’s Bob Hope Classic, while Mahan is coming off his honeymoon. Mahan followed his wedding to Kandi Harris with a honeymoon in Aspen, Colo., where he skied for the first time.
5.) Woods will start the final round in a tie for 24th. His 74 dropped him 12 spots on the leaderboard; he started the day tied for 12th, five shots off the lead. He hit five of 14 fairways and five of 18 greens Saturday.
“I did not play well at all today,” Woods said. “It’s the same old motor patterns, and they kind of kick in.”
Here’s a glance at Woods’ statistics for the week:
Driving accuracy: 16/42 (38.1%), T-63
Driving distance: 301.8 yards, 10th
Putts per round: 28.7, T-33
Putts per GIR: 1.778, T-49
Greens in regulation: 36/54 (66.7%), T-34