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Magical Season Continues With Championships

May 29, 2006

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The record-setting season of the Loyola Marymount men's golf team will make its final tour with the team's first-ever trip to the NCAA Men's Golf Championship at Crosswater Golf Course in Sunriver, Ore., May 31-June 3. The Lions are seeded 25th as they will begin their first round on Wednesday with Auburn and South Carolina at 8:37 a.m. The Lions line-up will once again feature senior Chaz Inouye, sophomores Jason D'Amore and Josh Escobedo and freshmen Louie Bergna and Brian Locke.

A Season Snap Shot
It has been a Cinderella-type season for the LMU men's golf team with many record setting accomplishments along the way. They advanced to the NCAA Championship thanks to a tie for sixth place finish in the NCAA West Regional at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club. The Lions posted a program record score of 17-under par (847) to finish in the top-10. They posted rounds of 284, 281 and 282, all ranking in the top-three all-time at LMU. The second round 281, 7-under par, shattered the previous single-round record. Speaking of, the team won the conference crown for the first-time in program history, giving them two tournament wins on the season. 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 seven 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 enter the NCAA Championship with a team average of 297.7 per round, the best team score in LMU history. The Lions rank 102 by Golfweek.com. Leading the charge of the Lions is WCC Player and Freshman of the Year Brian Locke. He is ranked 59th by Golfweek.com, averaging a team-low 71.9 per round. First-team All-WCC performer Jason D'Amore is ranked 117th and has a 72.9 average.

NCAA Championships
By virtue of their top-10 finish at the NCAA West Regional, the Lions are one of 30 teams to advance to this year's championship. The top-10 finishers from each of the three regionals earned a bid. The Lions are seeded 25th with the top-five going to Oklahoma State, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Arizona State. 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. The Lions will be joined by Pepperdine in this year's championship. The Waves are the 28th seed.

The amazing season continued as 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 is 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 final run by the Lions completes a Cinderella run in the regional as the Lions become one of the lowest seeded teams to ever advance. LMU was the 25th seed. Freshman Brian Locke continued to lead the Lions, posting a three-under 69 in the final round to finish with a three-round score of 10-under par 206. In his first regional, the Los Angeles native finished in a four-way tie for fifth place overall. Sophomore Jason D'Amore finished his three rounds with a final score of five-under 211, posting a three-under 69 on Saturday. He finished the day with four birdies and 13 pars as finished the three rounds in a three-way tie for 29th. Posting the most consistent rounds of the tournament for the Lions was senior Chaz Inouye, who turned in cards of 71 all three days. He finished with a 213, his lowest three-round total of the season. He finishes the Regional in a tie for 38th. Tucson native Josh Escobedo finished the day with a 73, one-over par. He finished with a three-round total of 218. Freshman Louie Bergna posted a 238 for the tournament, shooting an 82 on 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. 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.

The Lions entered the West Regional ranked 116th by the Golfweek.com sagarin rankings and had 24 of the 26 other teams in the field ranked higher. That didn't bother the Lions, as they finished better than all but five of those 24 teams. According to most in the golf world, the Lions' at a 25 seed is the highest seed to ever advance out of a regional since they began in 1989. In addition, LMU came into last week's play without a higher finish against a top-25 team in recorded history. However, they took care of a pair of them and equaled another as they tied with 10th-ranked BYU, defeated 15th-ranked East Tennessee State by two strokes and 19th-ranked Baylor by 22 strokes. They also added six more higher finishes against top-50 opponents, including #43 Pepperdine (four strokes), #33 New Mexico (11 strokes), #31 Alabama (13 strokes), #40 Stanford (13 strokes), #29 San Diego State (15 strokes) and #44 Houston (15 strokes).

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 72.9 average. D'Amore is tied for the team with nine top-20 finishes, and leads the team with six top-10 finishes. For his career D'Amore has claimed 16 top-20 finishes and 12 top-10. He finished the West Regional in a tie for 29th with a 5-under par 211. He posted rounds of 68 and 69 the final two days, his 29th and 30th under par round in his career.

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. Continued his late-season run with another top-five finish, his fifth, in the NCAA West Regional. He posted a 206, going 10-under for the tournament to finish tied for fifth. His ranking has moved to 59th in the nation as he leads the Lions with a 71.9 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 75.7 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. He is closing his career in style as he posted three consecutive rounds of 71 to finish the NCAA West Regional tied for 38th at three-under par.

Quite the Addition
In four years, Head Coach Alex Galvan has recruited 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 75.8 average, hitting a 219 to finish third at the Carson Daly Intercollegiate.