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Lions Make First Trip To Regionals

May 17, 2006

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On the heals of the program's first-ever West Coast Conference championship, the Loyola Marymount men's golf team earned the automatic bid to the 2006 NCAA tournament. The Lions were placed in the West Regional, hosted by the University of Arizona at Tucson National Golf Course. The Lions will be play three rounds, one on each day running from May 18-20. The practice round will be May 17. The Lions' five-man line-up will be senior Chaz Inouye, sophomores Jason D'Amore and Josh Escobedo, and freshmen Brian Locke and Louie Bergna.

A Season Snap Shot
LMU finished the 2005-06 season with a pair of tournament wins, the Carson Daly Intercollegiate and the WCC Championships. Not only was it the first time the Lions have won the conference crown, this marks the first time the Lions have earned a pair of first place finishes in the same season (non-dual meets). The Lions flirted with more all season. They finished the regular season campaign with six top-five (and at least in top-half) finishes, leading after the conclusion of at least one round in four of those meets. The Lions finished with a team average of 299.1 per round, the best team score in LMU history. Entering the NCAA West Regional, the Lions ranked 116th by Golfweek.com. Leading the charge of the Lions is WCC Player and Freshman of the Year Brian Locke. He is ranked 67th by Golfweek.com, averaging a team-low 72.3 per round. First-team All-WCC performer Jason D'Amore is ranked 135th and has a 73.0 average.

NCAA Regionals
The Lions are one of 27 teams and six individuals selected to the NCAA West Regional to be held May 18-20 at Tucson National Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz. The Lions were placed as the 25th seed in the West. The NCAA tournament for men's golf has three regionals, each with 27 teams and six individuals not from those teams. The top-10 teams and the top-two individuals not from the those teams from each regional go to the NCAA tournament. The championships will be conducted May 31-June 3 at Crosswater Golf Club at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Oregon. The University of the Portland is the host institution for this year's championships. LMU is one of four teams from the West Coast Conference selected to the West Regional. The Lions will be joined by Pepperdine, Santa Clara and San Diego. Despite defeating the Broncos by 14 strokes, the Waves by 27 strokes and the Toreros by 50 strokes at the WCC Championships, Pepperdine (14), Santa Clara (17) and San Diego (22) all earned seedings higher than LMU. Saint Mary's Chadd Çocco was an individual selected into the West regional. The top-five seeds in the West are Florida, Arizona State, BYU, East Tennessee State and Baylor. The top seed in the Central Regional is Oklahoma State and in the East the top seed is defending champion Georgia. The Lions will begin the NCAA Regional with a practice round on Wednesday, May 17 before playing single rounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The WCC Championships
The Loyola Marymount University men's golf team 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.

The WCC Firsts
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 64 also set a course record at Saddlecreek. 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.

In The Top Five
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.

How the West (Coast) Was Won
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.

Brian Locke's April was one for the record books. 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. Locke also was named LMU's Athlete of the Year, LMU's Freshman of the Year, and Athlete of the Month of April.

More Honors
Joining Locke as a first-team All-WCC selection are sophomores Jason D'Amore and Josh 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. D'Amore joined fellow teammate, senior Chaz Inouye, as the only players in program history to earn back-to-back All-WCC honors.

On a Roll
Jason D'Amore has been the model of consistency for the Lions in his two seasons at LMU. That was clear in the closing month of the 2005-06 season as he was named the West Coast Conference Golfer of the Month for March thanks to his impressive play in three tournaments. D'Amore became the first Lion in recorded history of the program to win WCC Golfer of the Month honors. The 2005 Freshman of the Year in the WCC had a breakout March, winning the second tournament of his career and lowering his season average by an entire stroke in the month. He started the month with a ninth place finish out of 106 golfers at the Braveheart Classic, hitting rounds of 72, 72 and 76 for a four-over 220. He then won his second tournament of his career thanks in large part to an opening round of 66 at the 2006 Callaway Golf Invitational against 84 other golfers. He finished with rounds of 72 and 71 for a final seven-under 209. He finished the month with a three-over 219, hitting a 69 in the opening round to place 20th out of 79. He averaged a 72 on the month and is second on the team with a 73.0 average. D'Amore now leads the team with nine top-20 finishes, and six top-10 finishes. For his career D'Amore has claimed 16 top-20 finishes and 12 top-10.

More First-Year Success
Thanks to 17 birdies in the first round of the 2005 Santa Clara Invitational, Loyola Marymount University men's golfer Brian Locke took home the individual title, posting a final round 73 to finish at a 11-under par for the tournament. He is the second freshman in two years to win a tournament in his first two months of college golf. Locke tied a course record and tied an LMU program single round record with his opening round 64. His 64 equaled the mark held by teammate Jason D'Amore and Nicolas Beauvy (1981). His total score of 205 is the second-best 54-hole total in program history, just two strokes behind D'Amore's 203 set a year ago. This spring, he finished third with a three-under 213 at the Cuesta Title Intercollegiate before winning his second tournament of his career at the WCC Championships. He hit yet another 64, earning his team-high fourth top-5 finish on the season as he leads the Lions with a 72.3 average.

Starting it All
Senior Chaz Inouye, the first recruit by Head Coach Alex Galvan, started all the success for freshman by the Lions. He was the first Lion to be named West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year thanks to his program-best third place finish at the WCC Championships, shooting a three-round 215. He became only the second Lion in program history to post two top-10 finishes at the WCC Championships, taking eighth with a 219 as a sophomore. Only Mike Stiefel (1984, 85) had done it before. Inouye, a senior for the Lions who is third on the squad with a 76.2 average, is a two-time All-WCC selection, earning first-team honors in 2003 and honorable mention honors in 2004. He was the first Lion to have two all-conference honors in his career.

Quite the Addition
In four years, Head Coach Alex Galvan has recruit some of the Lions top golfers. However, it was one he did not recruit that made a huge impact on the Lions WCC Championship run this season. Sophomore Josh Escobedo earned a try-out and then a walk-on spot to the Lions roster as a freshman a year ago. In under two years, he has developed into one of the WCC's top golfers. He earned first-team All-WCC honors with his fourth place finish in the WCC Championship. He finished the season with two top-five finishes and his 69 in the second round of the WCC's was the lowest score of the round. He is fourth on the team with a 76.2 average, hitting a 219 to finish third at the Carson Daly Intercollegiate.