Five questions: Can Mickelson hold it together?

Phil Mickelson during Round 3 of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Phil Mickelson during Round 3 of the Farmers Insurance Open.

SAN DIEGO – Five questions before the start of the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open:

1.) Can Phil keep it together for one more round? Mickelson is leading despite a wayward driver and an uncharacteristic strategy. He’s hit just 15 of 42 fairways, but is second in greens in regulation. Mickelson has been using a conservative strategy this week that even he calls “boring.” He’ll have the hometown support, though. That should help him in his quest for his fourth victory at Torrey Pines.

2.) Who can upset Phil on his home turf? My guess is Hunter Mahan, who starts the final round one shot off the lead. Mahan drives it long and straight and is a good mid-iron player, assets that help on the South Course. Mahan is coming off a two-win season that included his first World Golf Championship title. 

Also watch out for last week’s winner, Jhonattan Vegas, who has the length and demeanor to tackle a demanding South Course. Vegas starts the final round three shots back, but is riding a wave of confidence. He played with Tiger Woods on Saturday and beat the 14-time major champ by five shots, 69-74.

3.) What will Tiger do? He’ll be wearing his traditional Sunday red, but don’t expect a charge from Woods, who starts the final round in 24th place. His old habits are still sneaking into his swing, something that can only be overcome with “reps” on the course. It may be a while until we see Woods win again. While rebuilding his swing in the late-90s, Woods won just once in a two-year period. “lt takes time,” he said.

4.) What’s the forecast for today? Glad you asked. Seventy-two and sunny is the stock answer in San Diego, but it’s overcast this morning. There’s a 30 percent chance of showers at noon, nearly two hours after the final group has teed off, and a 50 percent chance at 3 p.m., when the tournament will be nearing its conclusion. The South Course has been playing firmer and faster than usual this week, so rain would have a big impact on the setup.

5.) What would a win by Bill Haas mean? Haas enters the final round tied with Mickelson at 12 under par. Haas is quietly beginning to fulfill the potential he displayed in college. Haas was the 2004 consensus college player of the year. When he was in college, he and Mahan were the two talents that were head and shoulders above their peers. A victory here would be Haas’ third in his past 27 starts. Beating Mickelson on Mickelson’s home turf would do wonders for Haas’ confidence, as well.

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