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Lions Set for Title Defense

April 12, 2007

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The defending West Coast Conference Champion Loyola Marymount men's golf team will put their 2006 title on the line with the 2007 WCC Championships at La La Purisima Golf Course in Lompoc on Monday and Tuesday, April 16-17. First and second round action will take play on Monday with final round action starting at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Follow the Lions' title defense live through GolfStat by going on line at LMULions.com.

The 2007 Championships
The 2007 WCC Championships will be held at La Purisima Golf Course in Santa Barbara county. Hailed as both a tour favorite and a beginner's first choice for scenic golf, La Purisima Golf Course has earned a spot amongst California's Top 10 Championship Public Courses and Top 100 in America by Golf Magazine. La Purisima was also recently named to the Top 50 Toughest to Play in America list by Golf Digest Magazine. The course plays 7,105 yards from the black championship tees and is par-72. The front nine includes the 542-yard, par-5 first hole and a 227-yard par-3 on the ninth. The longest hole on the course in the 609-yard par-5 12th. The 18th hole is 410 yards.

A Year Ago
LMU won the program's first-ever West Coast Conference Championship in 2006 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.

GolfWeek.Com Ratings
Sophomore Brian Locke is ranked as one of the top golfers in collegiate golf as he has a ranking of 59 according to GolfWeek/Sagarin Perofrmance Index. He moved up nine spots over the week after his win at the Cal Poly Intercollegiate. He has a head-to-head record of 646-111-17 in winning three tournaments this season. He is 8-13-1 against players in the top-25, 15-23-2 against those in the top-50 and 23-34-2 against the top-100. As a team, the Lions are ranked 106th. Pepperdine leads the WCC at 44, while San Diego follows at 80 and Saint Mary's at 85 to round out the top half of the WCC with the Lions in fourth.

Hole In 1
Josh Escobedo aced the 6th hole at Big Canyon Country Club in the final round of the Anteater Invitational on Feb. 28. The hole was 233 yards over water and was playing into 30-35 MPH winds It was Escobedo's first hole-in-one, and according to Fr. Thomas Higgins, LMU golf head coach for 32 years, it the fourth hole-in-one in competition. Those doing it prior to Escobedo are JH Reed (1979), Mike Stiefel (1988), and James Dunn (1999).

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
For the fifth time in his young career, Loyola Marymount sophomore Brian Locke won an individual championship, this time posting a seven-under 209 to win the 2007 Cuesta Title/Cal Poly Intercollegiate at Cypress Ridge Golf Course on Mar. 30. Locke led the Lions to a second place finish among 18 teams with a 15-over par 879. The Lions posted a final round 295 to finish 13 strokes behind host and tournament winner Cal Poly. Locke was the only golfer in the final round to post a round under 70, shooting a 69 in the final 18 to win the title by three strokes. Junior Jason D'Amore and sophomore Louie Bergna game the Lions three players in the top-20 as they finished 13th and 14th, respectively. D'Amore posted a final round of 74 to finish with a three-round total of 219 (+3). It is D'Amore's 22nd top-20 finish in his career. As for Bergna, he posted a final round 73 to finish with a 220 (+4) in the tournament. The final tally is Bergna's second best score of his career at LMU and his first top-20 finish in is career. Freshman Blake Nicolai finished fourth for the Lions' scorers, posted a final round 79 for a 231 (+15) and good for a tie at 60th place. Junior Josh Escobedo finished with a 240 (+24) and in a tie for 85th. Also playing for the Lions as individuals sophomore Joe Stassi and freshman Brandin Cohen. Stassi posted a final round of 77 good for a three-round total 230 (+14). He placed in a tie for 57th. Cohen finished with a 246 (+30) and in a tie for 92nd.

Individual Classic
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. Each university is awarded a $1,000 scholarship if a golfer from that school competes in the tournament. Locke continues to stake claim as one of the top golfers in the nation as he won his fifth tournament of his young career to end March. With the win, he we was named the West Coast Conference Golfer of the Month for March. At the Cuesta Title/Cal Poly Intercollegiate on March 29-30, he finished seven-under to win his third title in the 2007 season. He led the field of 98 players with a pair of eagles and in the month he finished with five eagles in three tournaments, knocking in a pair at the USF Triumph and one at the USC Collegiate Invitational. He finished 2nd out 84 golfers at the USC Invitational on Mar. 5-6, defeating 16 players ranked in the top-50 nationally in the process. He also finished 13th of 80 at the USF Triumph. On the month his stroke average was 70.6 with three rounds of 67 and another round of 69.

NCAA 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 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.