April 18, 2006
Copperopolios, CA (April 18) - The Loyola Marymount University men's golf team won the program's first-ever West Coast Conference Championship on Tuesday at Saddlecreek Golf Course in Copperopolis, Calif. The Lions finished with a three-round 872, five-strokes better than second place San Francisco to take home the WCC crown and the automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
Continuing the theme of firsts, LMU freshman Brian Locke finished the three-round tournament with a six-under 210 to win the WCC individual title. Locke did it with a 64 in the final round on Tuesday. Locke's 64, which equalled both a WCC record and an LMU program record, led the Lions to a final round score of 287, one-under par.
The 287 in the final round was the best round in program history in the WCC tournament for the Lions and their final 872 broke the three-round total of 886 set in 2003.
LMU finished with three players in the top five as sophomores Jason D'Amore and Josh Escobedo finished in a tie for fourth with three-round scores of 219. Senior Chaz Inouye finished in a tie for 23rd with a 228 and freshman Louie Bergna finished 36th with a 239.
The Lions, who finished eighth a year ago, earned their first conference crown with solid play from start to finish in the third round. With a three stroke lead over Santa Clara headlining into the round, the Lions and Locke set the tone early and often as he birdied 10 of the first 14 holes, including six straight as he ended the front nine with three birdies and started the back nine with three more.
Locke, a graduate of St. Bernard High School in Los Angeles, was among the leaders in most categories. He was second in par-3, par-4 and par-5 scoring, going one-under, even and five-under, respectively. He was also one of seven players to earn an eagle (third hole of the first round) and was second with 14 birdies.
For the Lions, the lead never dropped below five in the back nine as D'Amore posted four birdies in the final nine while Inouye and Escobedo earned par on a combined 27 holes in the final round. Inouye finished tied for third among the field of 40 with 37 pars during the tournament.
The Dons finished in second with a final score of 877. The Broncos finished in third at 886 while Saint Mary's was in fourth at 892. Rounding out the final four was Pepperdine in fifth at 899, Portland in sixth at 907, San Diego in seventh at 922 and Gonzaga in eighth at 928.
Locke's success allowed him to clean-up on the postseason awards, earning WCC Player of the Year and WCC Freshman of the Year. He is the first player in LMU history to earn Player of the Year honors and becomes the third Lion in four years to claim Freshman of the Year honors. Inouye earned the honor in 2003 while D'Amore did it in 2005.
Joining Locke as a first-team All-WCC selection are D'Amore and Escobedo. It is the second straight selection for D'Amore while Escobedo went from walk-on to All-WCC in less than two years.
In his fourth season as the Lions head coach, Alex Galvan was named co-coach of the year. He has led the Lions to their best season in program history and has coached all three Freshman of the Year winners.
LMU will prepare for their first NCAA Regional appearance on May 18-20 in Tucson, Ariz.
2006 Men's All-Conference Team
Chadd Cocco, Saint Mary's
Alex Coe, Pepperdine
Jason D'Amore, Loyola Marymount
Josh Escobedo, Loyola Marymount
Jesse Galvon, San Francisco
Ryan Gonzalez, San Francisco
Domingo Jojola, San Francisco
Brian Locke, Loyola Marymount
Mike McRae, Saint Mary's
Michael Nicoletti, Santa Clara
Bucky Coe, USD; Michael Baird, PEP; John Colyar, SCU; Matt Jacobsen, POR; Eric Lillibridge, SCU; Tim Lynch, SCU