LOS ANGELES- Armen Kirakossian officially announced its first recruits as the head coach of UCLA’s men’s golf program. The group includes Luciano Conlan from Kaneohe, Hawaii and Alex Papayoanou from The Woodlands, Texas.
Luciano Conlan – Kaneohe, Hawaii (Classical Academy)
Conlan, a southpaw from O’ahu, qualified for the 122nd US Amateur with a win in qualifying at Hoakalei Country Club in Hawaii with a 5-under (68-71) performance. Conlan has two tournament medals to his name over the past two years, winning the Klipper Invitational in his most recent event in October with a score of 69-67-70 and the Junior Americas Cup in July 2021 with a score of 65-71-68.
“People always ask what you’re looking for in a rookie. My answer, a kid who wins golf tournaments, and that’s exactly what Luciano has done in his career so far,” Kirakossian said. “He’s won many golf tournaments. Hailing from Hawaii, Luciano has the stereotypical laid-back vibe but is a fierce competitor. He has his own style and owns it. That confidence will have a huge impact on the course and the culture of the game. We are delighted to have Luciano at Westwood.”
So far in 2022, Conlan has finished in the top 10 in four USGA events: Army Invitational (5th of 89; 67-67-75), Oahu Country Club Invitational (8th of 31; 70-72-72 ), Hawaii State Match Play – Manoa Cup (3rd) and the UNIQLO Adam Scott Junior Championship (T-3rd; 72-72-69).
In high school, Conlan was the defending San Diego CIF Section Champion and Section Player of the Year.
Alex Papayoanou – The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands High School)
Papayoanou has recorded five top-10 finishes and two tournament medals over the past two years, including a victory at his most recent event last September, the Houston City Amateur Championship, where he was the only golfer of 143 to have shot under 70 in all four. rounds (68-67-63-64), winning by nine strokes. He was the youngest golfer to win the event and set a scoring record at 18 under par.
Papayoanou’s other win came at the Insperity Invitational/Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship in June 2021, leading the field 43 by four strokes with a score of 72-69-71.
In 2022, Papayoanou qualified and played in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship on a 68 shot at Magnolia Creek Golf Club in League City, Texas.
“It doesn’t take long to see that Alex is a special talent,” Kirakossian said. “He has a powerful swing and a powerful ball flight that was developed growing up in Houston, Texas. Alex has played in the biggest junior tournaments and has a high level of experience and success regularly playing against the best players in the world. He will be well prepared for the transition to college golf, and we look forward to seeing him compete in blue and gold.
Papayoanou competed in major tournaments early in his amateur career, achieving top-10 results in 2021 at the PLAYERS Junior Championship (5th/78 at TPC Sawgrass), PING Invitational (9th/72 at Karsten Creek), and the Arnold Palmer Invitational (6/78). He went on to earn All-American Rolex Junior Honorable Mention 2021 honors.
The Papayoanou High School competition was marked by nine Texas 6A wins.