Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Mickelson employs risk-free strategy to rein in Bill Haas

REUTERS, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Overnight pacesetter Bill Haas bogeyed the par-five last to drop back into a tie for the lead with fellow American Phil Mickelson in Saturday’s third round of the USPGA Tour event in San Diego.

Haas, who lost out in a three-way playoff for last week’s Bob Hope Classic, overhit the green with his third shot at the 18th as the wind gusted, before missing a four-foot par putt to card a one-under 71.

That put him level at 12-under 204 with three-time winner and fan favorite Mickelson, who fired a five-birdie 68.

“I got to two-under [for the round] and I’m disappointed with the six at the last, but I’m in a decent position for tomorrow,” Haas told reporters.

Mickelson, who lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe and has not triumphed at Torrey Pines since 2001, felt his risk-free strategy had helped him into a share of the lead.

“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,” said the left-hander, who was dubbed “Phil the Thrill” in his younger days for his daring shot-making.

US Ryder Cup players Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson were a stroke further back in a share of third after they both eagled the 18th for matching 69s.

It was a frustrating day for six-time champion Tiger Woods, who again struggled off the tee on the way to a 74 and a tie for 24th, a distant eight strokes off the pace.

“I did not play well at all today,” Woods said after four bogeys and just two birdies gave him only his second over-par score at the event in 46 rounds. “It was a struggle all day. I finally found something at 16 [with his swing], but 15 holes already had gone by, so that was pretty frustrating.”

Woods was totally upstaged by his playing partner, USPGA Tour rookie Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, who was the shock winner of last week’s Bob Hope Classic.

The long-hitting Vegas birdied three of the last six holes for a 69 to lie sixth at nine-under, a stroke behind Anthony Kim of the US, who birdied the last for a 71.

“I’m playing pretty good golf right now,” said Vegas, who is competing in only his sixth Tour event. “Today was an incredible day playing alongside Tiger Woods. I really enjoyed it a lot.”

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