San Diego K.J. Choi one-putted his last six holes Saturday to salvage an even-par 72 and a share of the lead with Scott Brown going into a final round at the Farmers Insurance Open that seems to have everyone nervous.
Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland, tied with Choi going into the third round, birdied his last hole for a 73 to join Jimmy Walker at one shot behind. Woodland birdied two of his last four holes.
The biggest threat might be a forecast of high wind and big rain, and tee times were moved up as early as possible to try to avoid it.
Inside the ropes, the final round figured to be wide-open, with 16 players separated by three shots.
Choi was headed the wrong direction until he made a pair of birdies, saved par on three straight holes and then hit wedge to three feet on the par-5 18th for one last birdie that allowed him to join Brown at 9-under 207.
Brown, whose lone PGA Tour victory was nearly three years ago in Puerto Rico, would not seem to be a candidate to thrive on the South Course at Torrey Pines, the longest on the PGA Tour and a U.S. Open site. But he managed to keep it in play, which is key no matter how far anyone hits it. He had a 70 and goes into today with a great chance to win and earn the Augusta native his first trip to the Masters.
Walker, already a winner on two other California courses, was the anomaly. He couldn’t seem to keep it in play off the tee by hitting only three fairways and still managed to gouge enough shots out of the rough and hole enough putts for a 68 that put him one shot behind.
Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler each missed the cut, though Torrey Pines still has a local favorite to cheer. That would be Michael Kim, the Cal grad who went to Torrey Pines High School and grew up watching Mickelson and Tiger Woods win here. Kim had a 70 and was among four players at 7-under 209.
Another shot back was a group that included Dustin Johnson, who didn’t make a birdie until the 13th hole and still managed to limit the damage to a 74.