Traveling in a remote section of South Dakota last year, Shelton’s Christopher Evans got a phone call from his father.
It was to tell him to come home to visit — and play in a local tournament offering $10,000 to the winner.
The tournament was the Tacoma Open, at which Evans made little noise last summer.
But he opened with a bang Friday in the first round of the second Tacoma Open at Meadow Park Golf Course in Lakewood.
Evans shot a 6-under-par 65, including a 30 on the back nine, to take a one-stroke lead over Kevin Penner of Sahalee Country Club.
Four golfers finished at 67, including Tacoma’s Troy Kelly, a PGA Tour professional, and Seattle’s Joel Skarbo, as well as two locals amateurs — Ryan Welborn and Craig Larson.
Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, another PGA pro, rallied to shoot 68 and is tied for sixth with Tacoma’s Derek Barron and Oregon’s Jason Humphrey.
Evans has had a winding path since graduating from Shelton High School in 2006. He played at the University of Washington for a year but left to move to California and turn professional.
Now playing out of The Plantation Golf Club in Indio, California, Evans splits times among three mini-tours — the Golden State, E-Golf and Dakota Tours.
He was playing a tournament on the Dakota Tour last summer when his dad first told him about the Tacoma Open.
“He knew it would be an event I’d be available to play,” Evans said. “I’d be coming up to see my family.”
On Friday, he birdied the first four holes on the back nine. The longest putt was from 8 feet at No. 12.
Penner, a UNLV product, shot a front-nine 30 on the way to a 5-under 66.
Kelly was bogey-free with five birdies but made a three-putt bogey from the front fringe at No. 18 for a 67. … Gonzales was 1-over through 14 holes, but birdied the final four holes for a 68. … Welborn, the co-owner of the Meadow Park restaurant “Foley’s On the Green,” is a former mini-tour professional. He holds the course record at 61, shot in July of 2014. … Reigning Tacoma City Amateur winner Casey Adams was one of four amateurs to shoot under-par – at 1-under 70.
First round at Meadow Park Golf Course, Lakewood (6,164 yards, par 71)
Christopher Evans, Plantation Club 35-30–65
Kevin Penner, Sahalee 30-36–66
Troy Kelly, Tacoma C&GC 33-34–67
Craig Larson, Home Course (a) 32-35–67
Ryan Welborn, Tacoma C&GC (a) 33-34–67
Derek Barron, Tacoma Golf Center 33-35–68
Andres Gonzales, Tacoma C&GC 36-32–68
Jason Humphrey, Brandon Crossings 35-33–68
John Cassidy, Alderbrook 34-35–69
Mark Wurtz, Plantation Club 33-36–69
Casey Adams, Capitol City (a) 34-36–70
Joe Highsmith, Tacoma C&GC (a) 33-37–70
Ben Nelson, Linden 34-36–70