SAN DIEGO -- Phil Mickelson has three career victories in his hometown, San Diego, but as as almost any self-respecting homeboy from hereabouts already knows, it's been a while since Lefty visited the winner's circle.
The last time Mickelson won at Torrey Pines was in 2001, the year before the course was completely revamped by designer Rees Jones, who, truth be told, isn't Lefty's favorite course architect. Put another way, when Mickelson last won on his former high-school home course, Rickie Fowler, now 22 and tied for third with Phil, was barely sniffing puberty.
Mickelson shot a 3-under 69 on Friday at the Farmers Insurance Open and moved into a seven-way tie for third at 8 under, three shots behind leader Billy Haas.
On a course where Mickelson long ago lost his home-field advantage, his halfway total represents his lowest 36-hole standing relative to par since he won here in '01 and was 12 under heading into the third round.
It ought to be an eventful weekend, with hometown kid Lefty, a revitalized John Daly and revamped Tiger Woods all in the weekend mix at five shots off the lead or closer.
"I am looking forward to it," Mickelson said. "I feel like I have a decent idea of how I want to play the golf course, also I have a good idea of what the breaks are going to do on the greens because I've been here now so many years and have studied them.
"I'm confident heading into the weekend."
It's been awhile since he's said that about the South course, where the greens were rebuilt a decade ago and the breaks and nuances he'd learned since childhood disappeared with the scrape of a bulldozer blade.
Mickelson actually fired a better round Thursday, a 67 on the South, than he did Friday on the easier North. He's right in the weekend cauldron with a slew of name players, including the guys he'll be paired with Saturday, fellow lefty Bubba Watson and Fowler, his Ryder Cup mates from last fall.
Mickelson liked the view from where he stood after Friday's workday, and he wasn't talking about the million-dollar vistas afforded by the golf course itself, where more near-perfect weather is expected on the weekend.
"It's a good spot," he said. "Now you have a better idea of how you stand. With guys playing different golf courses, you don't know exactly where you are in the field the first two days. But I should be in good position heading into the weekend."
Maybe even coming out of it, too.