SAN DIEGO – A few observations following Saturday’s third round of the Farmers Insurance Open, where K.J. Choi and Scott Brown lead at 9 under. For more on the day's action, click here to read the Daily Wrap-up.
1. Scott Brown always seems to play well after the birth of a child. His first daughter, Elly, was born in July 2012. He withdrew from the final round of The Greenbrier Classic and drove home to see her arrival, but got there 90 minutes too late. Brown finished in the top 10 in his next two starts, though.
His second daughter, Emmerly, was born last week. Brown shares the 54-hole lead at the Farmers Insurance Open with K.J. Choi.
“I just think that you’re OK with how the cookie crumbles,” Brown said. “There’s no pressure.”
Brown is seeking his second PGA TOUR victory. His first came at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open, when he beat Jordan Spieth by a shot.
“It was pretty cool, but he was raw then,” Brown said. “I mean, he’s done a little more. I would rather have his record.”
Brown must overcome a tight leaderboard and tough conditions to win Sunday.
At 9-under 207 (66-71-70), he is tied for the lead with K.J. Choi (68-67-72). Sixteen players are three shots back or closer.
Choi, an eight-time PGA TOUR winner, is seeking his first victory since THE PLAYERS Championship in 2011. He’s coming off the worst season of his career. He finished 152nd in the FedExCup standings and failed to finish in the top 10.
Brown, who was born in Augusta, would qualify for his first Masters with a win on Sunday. He shares a home course, Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, South Carolina, and swing coach, John Tillery, with FedExCup leader Kevin Kisner.
“To see him have that success, it makes you feel like you can do the same,” Brown said.
Choi, Brown co-lead after 54 holes at Farmers Insurance Open
2. One inch made all the difference for Jonas Blixt.
The 31-year-old Swede shot 77 in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, but finds himself in contention for his first TOUR title since 2013 after consecutive 66s. His 7-under 209 total is two shots behind co-leaders Scott Brown and K.J. Choi.
After the first round, Blixt’s instructor, Jorge Parada, noticed that his student was standing too far from the ball.
“I was standing a little too far from the golf ball and just tightened things up a little bit,” Blixt said. “Things have worked out pretty well.”
If Blixt were to win, he would set the record for highest first-round score by a winner of this event.
Blixt made the cut without a shot to spare after his first 66. The second one was the low round Saturday at Torrey Pines’ South Course – only eight players broke 70 -- and moved him up 53 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for fifth.
Blixt, a two-time TOUR winner and runner-up at the 2014 Masters, struggled last season. He needed a top-10 in the final event of the Regular Season, the Wyndham Championship, to keep his card for this season. It was his only top-10 of the season. He missed the cut in 14 of 26 starts last season.
“I have the best job in the world, in my opinion, but when you keep playing bad, when you have a bad day at work, and it’s every day, … it’s pretty much seven months of bad days, it gets to you,” said Blixt. “It’s hard to see the positive sometimes.”
A small change has him seeing good results once again.
3. Michael Kim was a member of the Torrey Pines High School golf team that won the 2011 state championship. He played the course countless times because of discounted junior rates, and now he finds himself in contention at his hometown events.
Kim will start the final round two shots off the lead after shooting 70-69-70.
“It’s one of the tournaments that I’ve been dreaming about winning since I was a kid watching guys like Tiger and Phil win out here,” Kim, 22, said. “I’m seeing old faces I haven’t seen in years. I forgot some of their names, but it’s really nice to see and I’m looking forward to hopefully more support tomorrow.”
For $10.50 per month, Kim could play unlimited rounds at Torrey Pines after 1 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.
Kim was the 2013 NCAA player of the year at Cal and made his pro debut at this event in 2014. He graduated from the Web.com Tour last year.
4. Jimmy Walker hit just three of 14 fairways Saturday, but he was still able to shoot 68 and pull within a shot of the lead.
“I just really grinded hard. It was pretty brutal,” Walker said. “Three fairways around Torrey South isn’t much fun.”
Walker and Woodland are tied for third, one stroke behind the co-leaders. Walker is seeking his first victory since the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2015. Walker finished T10 (Hyundai Tournament of Champions) and T13 (Sony Open in Hawaii) in his first two starts of 2016.
The five-time TOUR winner has finished in the top 10 in three of his past four starts at this event. He is accustomed to success in California, winning twice in the state and counting Pebble Beach, Riviera and Torrey Pines among the courses where he often plays well.
5. Final-round tee times have been moved up to avoid the worst of Sunday’s forecast, which includes high winds and heavy rain. The South Course has played to an over-par scoring average all week because of thick rough that lines its fairways.
“From what they’re predicting, it sounds like it’s going to be brutal,” said Scott Brown, the 54-hole co-leader. “I think even-par is a really good score tomorrow from the way the course has been playing so far. It’s going to be a grind for everybody all day.”
The last group tees off at 8:50 a.m.
CALL OF THE DAY
Jason Gore cards an albatross on the par-5 18th hole during Round 3 at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Free play-by-play coverage of the final round streams from 12-5 p.m. ET or until the conclusion of play Sunday on PGATOUR.COM
SHOT OF THE DAY
Jason Gore’s double eagle is the Shot of the Day at Farmers
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