SAN DIEGO // Tiger Woods admitted he could not force his way into contention for the Farmers Insurance Open title as Phil Mickelson grabbed a share of the lead with Bill Haas at Torrey Pines.
Mickelson is on course for victory but Woods's chances have faded after contrasting third rounds in California.
The world No 4 made one birdie on the par fives but still shot a four-under round of 68 on the South Course to tie with Haas going into Sunday's final round.
"This course doesn't reward you for taking on any challenge," Mickelson, who has not won at Torrey Pines since 2001 said. "My more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard."
Mickelson and Haas were at 12-under 204, a stroke ahead of Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson, who both made eagle on the 18th.
Woods dropped out of contention and lies eight shots off the lead as careless mistakes saw him shoot a two-over round of 74.
That ended his streak of 21 rounds of par or better on the South Course as his run of fine from at Torrey Pines came to an end.
"I didn't swing the club very well at all," Woods said. "Didn't feel comfortable, as I said, until 16. By then it's too late and the damage had already been done."
In only his third competitive round of the year Woods found he had too much ground to make up on the field.
"It's always easy to do it at home on the range," he said. "Then you have to do it on the golf course at home, and then once you're able do it there, now you have to do it out here.
"Then once you do it out here, you have to do it in contention," Woods said in comments reported on the PGA website, www.pgatour.com. "So it it's a process, a building process. I've been through it before, and I hit some good shots out there, unfortunately, I hit way too many bad ones."
But while it was bad news for Woods there was some good news for Hunter Mahan.
Mahan played his way into Sunday's final group when he rolled in a four-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole. Mahan hit a round of 69 and moved to 11-under for the tournament, trailing Haas and Mickelson by one shot.
Anthony Kim lies fifth on his own on 10-under par.
Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson is seven-under, fellow countryman Richard S Johnson is four-under along with England's Brian Davis.
England's Justin Rose is two-under and Sweden's Carl Pettersson three-over.