Feb. 25, 2007
Up next for the Loyola Marymount men's golf team will be the 2007 UC Irvine Anteater Invitational Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 26-27 at the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. It will be an early season test for the Lions in West Coast Conference competition as four other WCC schools are entered in the field of 10 teams - San Francisco, Saint Mary's, Santa Clara and Portland. Making the trip will be Louie Bergna, Jason D'Amore, Josh Escobedo, Brian Locke and Blake Nicolai, who will be making his first appearance this season after earning a walk-on spot to the roster and winning the Lions' qualifier to play in this week's invitational.
The Lions will participate in the UC Irvine Anteater Invitational on Monday and Tuesday. The 10-team tournament features LMU, UC Irvine, Arizona, San Francisco, Saint Mary's, UC Riverside, Portland, Cal State Northridge, Maryland and Santa Clara. HTe tournament will be held at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. The course is 6,876 yards and par is 72. The Lions last played in the Anteater Invite on March 13-14, 2005, taking seventh place out of 10 teams. Jason D'Amore, then a freshman, placed in a tie for ninth with a 225.
The Lions enter the Anteater Invitational ranked No. 105 in the latest GolfWeek.com ratings (Dec. 18, 2007). The Lions (rating of 73.41) are fourth in the West Coast Conference, trailing No. 41 Pepperdine (71.82), No. 87 San Diego (73.13)and No. 94 Saint Mary's (73.22). The rest of the league has No. 108 San Francisco (73.48), No. 141 Santa Clara (74.23), No. 160 Portland (74.54) and No. 155 Gonzaga (74.50). There are 291 teams in NCAA Division I. The Lions head-to-head record is 43-31. As for individuals, sophomore Brian Locke is ranked 88 and has a head-to-head record of 395-87-13 in winning both the Bill Cullum and Hawaii Fall Intercollegiate. There are overall more than 2,000 individuals in NCAA Division I men's golf.
For the first time in school history, LMU earned back-to-back tournament victories. The Lions posted a three-round 873 (9-over par) to win the Bill Cullum Intercollegiate hosted by Cal State Northridge on Oct. 29-31 and then posted an even-par 864, their best score on the season, to win the Hawaii Fall Intercollegiate hosted by Hawaii on Nov. 6-8. Sophomore Brian Locke took home individual title honors in both tournaments, winning the field of 87 with a nine-under 207 at the Bill Cullum and then winning in a one-hole playoff with a 10-under 206 at the Hawaii tournament, which had 88 players. The Lions won a pair of tournament titles a year ago, including their first WCC championship. They have now won four tournament titles in the last two years, more than the previous 15 seasons combined.
Last Time Out
LMU finished the 2006 PING-Arizona Intercollegiate in 14th out of 16 teams, shooting a three-round 892. The Lions posted rounds of 298, 294 and 300 as junior Jason D'Amore led the Lions at one-over par. The 16-team field featured 14 teams in the top-100 nationally and 10 of those in the top-60. D'Amore posted rounds of 73, 69 and 72 to finish in a tie for 30th in the 88-man field. His 69 was best among all Lions on the par-71 course at Arizona National. Sophomore Brian Locke had the best round on Tuesday with a one-under 70 to finish with a 217 and in a tie for 39th. Josh Escobedo, a Tucson native, went for a 225, tying for 61st. Louie Bergna was in 78th while Joe Stassi was tied for 85th.
Brian Locke continues to add to his young resume as the 2006 All-American was invited to play in the 32nd annual Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic held in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 19-21. Playing against the best collegiate golf players in the country, Locke shot a final round 74 to finish an even 213 and tied for 19th. He shot a three-under 68 in his second round. The tournament, hosted by the Sun Bowl Association, is played at the Par-71, 6,837-yard El Paso Country Club. Each university is awarded a $1,000 scholarship if a golfer from that school competes in the tournament. It is an invitational only tournament open to those who earned All-America honors in 2005-06.
After leading the Lions to their first ever NCAA Men's Golf National Championship appearance, Brian Locke was named Honorable Mention All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Locke becomes the first-ever men's golfer to earn All-America honors. He led the team with a stroke average of 72. In April he helped the Lions win their first ever WCC Championship, hitting a final score of six-under par to earn individual title honors. It was the first time a Lion has won the WCC Championships. He also was named the WCC's Player of the Year, the first Lion to do so, and was the third Lion in four years to earn WCC Freshman of the Year. Later that month he became the first golfer to earn LMU Athlete of the Year and LMU Freshman of the Year honors at the annual end-of-year awards banquet. He went on to lead the Lions to three of its best rounds in school history as a team to claim a tie for sixth place at the NCAA West Regional. Locke finished fifth at 10-under par as the Lions' earned a trip to the NCAA Men's Golf Championships.
By virtue of their top-10 finish at the NCAA West Regional, the Lions were one of 30 teams to advance to the 109th annual NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship. The championships were held May 31-June 3 at Crosswater Golf Club at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Oregon. The Lions finished the NCAA West Regional with a 17-under par 847 to place in a tie for sixth among the 17-team field at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club. The Lions posted a third-round 282, six-under par. It was the second lowest single round in program history, one shy of Friday's 281. In addition, the three-round total of 847 smashes the previous record of 872 they set in April at the West Coast Conference championship.
The WCC Championships
LMU won the program's first-ever West Coast Conference Championship on April 18 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. LMU freshman Brian Locke finished the three-round tournament with a six-under 210 to win the WCC individual title. 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.
The Head Coach
It is only fitting that a life-long Lion would bring LMU its first golf championship. Alex Galvan was hired in the summer of 2002 as the head coach of the men's golf program at Loyola Marymount University, becoming just the second head coach of the program in 32 years. In his fifth year at the helm of the program, the list of accomplishments is beginning to add up: WCC Co-Coach of the Year (2006), WCC Champions (2006), six All-WCC selections, three WCC Freshman of the Year (2003, 2005, 2006), four tournament titles in two years, Low Three-Round Record (847), four single-round records of 64, and a brand new on campus practice facility, the Thomas Higgins, SJ, Short Game Center. Galvan, a 1982 graduate of Loyola Marymount and a four-year letterwinner for the men's golf program, was a volunteer assistant with the Lions in 2001-02 and became the first full-time coach of the men's golf team in LMU history. Galvan, who was team captain in 1982, comes to LMU from El Cabellero Club where he was an assistant golf professional.