Evans still leads Tacoma Open, but big names in hunt

There was no backing off for Shelton’s Christopher Evans, the overnight leader at the second annual Tacoma Open.

Evans fired another good round Saturday — a 4-under-par 67 — to grab a three-shot lead over Seattle’s Joel Skarbo heading into the final round Sunday at Meadow Park Golf Course in Lakewood.

Evans is at 10-under 132, and is trying to match what Lakewood’s Andrew Yun accomplished in the inaugural event by becoming a wire-to-wire winner.

He is also a proven winner on the mini-tours, winning multiple times over the past year in California and South Dakota.

But he will have a host of great golfers chasing him.

The most interesting group is at 136, four shots behind. Tacoma’s Troy Kelly and Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, who are members of the PGA Tour, are in that wave. So is up-and-coming Kevin Penner, a UNLV product with partial Tour status.

Yelm’s John Cassidy, the 2014 Washington Open Invitational champion, is at 136 as is amateur Ryan Welborn, the co-owner of the host course’s restaurant.

Gonzales, a Capital High School graduate, already has secured his PGA Tour card for next season. And he is in the midst of a six-week break before playing a handful of Fall Series tournaments.

“As far as I am concerned, I am here supporting Tacoma golf,” said Gonzales, who added that whatever earnings he makes will be donated to the First Tee of South Puget Sound.

“I am coming out here and having a good time. Obviously, I am trying to play good golf, but I don’t have a whole lot of expectations. If I catch fire — awesome.”

Penner is an interesting player to watch. He has plenty of firepower to post a low number. And he said on the back nine Saturday he found his golf swing.

“I haven’t played well the last two days,” said Penner, who backed up his first-round 66 with a 70.

“I’ve made a lot of putts. If I start putting the ball in play, and hit it like I usually do … I should put up a good number tomorrow.”

Evans will be a tough man to chase down. He opened with a 33 on the back nine Saturday, with birdies at the 14th, 16th and 18th holes.