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Scott Brown and K.J. Choi share lead at Torrey Pines, where final-round conditions could be brutal

Scott Brown and K.J. Choi share lead at Torrey Pines, where final-round conditions could be brutal
K.J. Choi tees off on the second hole during Round 3 of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South onSaturday. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images)

All that time they spend with the weather on newscasts these days, apparently PGA Tour players are among the prime demographic.

The leaders of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Saturday were only minutes off the South Course when they were asked their opinions about the dire forecast for Sunday's final round. They were so well-informed and up to date it was as if they were checking Weather.com on their phones while playing.

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"It is going to be a grind," Jimmy Walker said. "Is it going to be a ton of fun? Probably not. Just going to be out there getting slammed and attendance is probably going to be down … because it sounds like the apocalypse is coming."

At least as defined by Southern Californians.

PGA Tour meteorologist Stewart Williams said his forecast model called for about a half-inch of rain on the coastline Sunday — not biblical, but concerning enough to the tour that it moved up the tee times by 70 minutes, with the lead threesome going off at 8:50 a.m.

The wind might actually be the most troublesome. Williams said it's supposed to start at 10-15 mph and get cranked up to 35-40 mph by about the time the tournament is scheduled to end around 2 p.m.

The march toward the finish might be a test of patience and perseverance as much as skill, and Scott Brown believes he has that covered. The Augusta, Ga., native shot two-under-par 70 and drew even at the top with second-round co-leader K.J. Choi (72) at nine under.

Walker (68) and Gary Woodland (73) were one shot behind, and trailing by two were a pair of Swedes — Jonas Blixt, with the day's best score of 66, and Freddie Jacobson (71) —- along with John Huh (71), and Michael Kim (70), a San Diegan who attended Torrey Pines High, five miles from the golf course.

"I kind of like conditions to be tough," said Brown, 32. "And I like tough golf courses. We're going to have both tomorrow. I think it's just about staying patient out there. You're going to make bogeys; just hopefully you can make a few birdies to outrun them."

The bearded Brown, amiable and soft-spoken with a syrupy Southern accent, came to this tournament with a different mind-set than most. On Tuesday last week before he was scheduled to play in the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, his wife, Allison, gave birth in Aiken, S.C., to their second daughter.

Brown was not there for the birth of their first girl in 2012, when he withdrew on Saturday night from the Greenbrier tournament in a race to get home, and missed it by about an hour.

"People told me that having kids would cost you money," he said wryly. "She cost me money before she was even born."

This time, Brown was there for the birth and then that night, amid flight delays, he flew overnight from Augusta to Palm Springs early Thursday morning. Exhausted, he eventually missed the cut.

He also noted, however, that after his first daughter was born, he had consecutive finishes of seventh and fifth.

"I don't know what that is about," he said. "It seems like it sure does happen to a lot of guys. I just think you're just OK with how the cookie crumbles. There's no pressure."

The 5-foot-8 Brown is a former NCAA Division II player of the year at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He won six titles in college, another five on the eGolf Tour and needed only two full seasons on the Web.com Tour to earn his PGA Tour card.

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After a rough rookie season, Brown captured the 2013 Puerto Rico Open, making birdie on the last hole to win by a shot over Fabian Gomez and an up-and-coming 19-year-old, Jordan Spieth.

Looking somewhat sheepish about the memory, Brown said with a smile, "It was pretty cool, but he was raw back then. He's done a little more. I would rather have his record."

In Choi, Walker and Woodland, Brown is contending with the experience of a combined 15 tour victories and cumulative pro experience of 46 years. These aren't kids who haven't much seen the kind of conditions that might come up in the final round.

"You just got to out and deal with it, keep your head about you, keep your wits, and it's going to be tough," Walker, 37, said.

Walker is among the ultimate tour grinders. The native Oklahoman toiled seven full seasons on the PGA Tour before getting his first victory, and then he was hard to stop. Walker won three times in 2014 and twice in '15.

Ranked 27th in the world, Walker already has ties for 10th and 13th in his first two starts of the calendar year.

Choi, 45, overcame a double bogey on the par-four seventh hole with three birdies in his last six holes. The eight-time winner birdied the two par-fives on the back, laying up each time and hitting approaches to two feet on 13 and three feet on 18.

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