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Thornberry having another successful year
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Ceres golfer Ryan Thornberry posted six top-10 finishes en route to claiming the California Collegiate Athletic Association Freshman of the Year Award while playing golf at Cal State Stanislaus last season. The 2002 Ceres High graduate is having a memorable sophomore campaign.

"I'm more consistent this year," Thornberry said. "I've shot more rounds under par."

Thornberry has played 30 rounds of golf, including 15 under par.

"He's working harder," said Stanislaus coach Jim Hanny.

Thornberry has lowered his scoring average considerably.

Last year, he had a 73 average. This year, Thornberry has a 71.30 average.

"He's got the best scoring average we have ever had," Hanny said.

Thornberry could break the team's single-season scoring average record. Marc Lawless' mark of 73, was set in 2002.

"That would be awesome," Thornberry said.

Added Hanny: "I think he'll break it. But I don't want to put any pressure on him."

Thornberry has competed in 10 tournaments. He has eight top-10 finishes, including one first, four thirds, a fourth, an eighth and a 10th.

"He has been in the top 10 eight out of 10 tournaments," Hanny said. "That's pretty damn good."

Thornberry won the 54th Southern California Intercollegiate Championship at the SantaLuz Club in Del Mar on March 9. He edged NCAA Division II champion/All American J.J. Jakovac of Chico State by two strokes, 210 to 212.

Thornberry finished out of the top 10 for the first time this season at the Cal State San Bernardino Coyote Classic Invitational at Hesperia Golf and Country Club on March 23. He managed to place 11th even though he bogeyed, triple bogeyed and double bogeyed the first three holes in the second round.

"He played even par over the last 15 holes," Hanny said. "He was six-over after three holes."

Thornberry has a great temperament.

"He doesn't get mad on the course," Hanny said "He just accepts it. He's tough."

Thornberry finished 20th at the Stevinson Invitational on March 30. Stanislaus was the only Division II school at the 14-team tournament. The Warriors took sixth and finished ahead of eight Division I teams.

"He's a good competitor," Hanny said.

Thornberry practices six days a week, including three times in Turlock and twice in Stevinson. He's worked on putting and ball striking.

"He wants to be successful," Hanny said.

Thornberry has also developed into a team leader.

"Our guys look up to him," Hanny said. "That's important."

Thornberry made the right decision when he accepted a partial scholarship to play for Stanislaus. He considered going to Fresno State because he wanted to play with Nick Watney, the No. 1 ranked Division I golfer in the fall of 2002.

"I'm totally happy with the way things worked out," Thornberry said. "The guys that I play with are awesome."

Ryan's older brother Nick played golf at Stanislaus.

"His brother had a good experience here and his mother and father like to see him play," Hanny said.

Added Ryan: "I practiced with the team when I was younger when my brother was there."

Thornberry wants to play at the professional level. He would like to follow in the footsteps of former Stanislaus golfer Doug Dunakey, a Nationwide Tour member in 1998 and 2002-2003 and PGA Tour member from 1999-2001.

"That's definitely a possibility," Hanny said.

"He has great potential."

Added Thornberry: "My goal is to play golf for a living when I'm done with school. Hopefully, in a couple of years." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier