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Thornberry struggles at Sahalee Championship
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Ryan Thornberry is playing in more out-of-state golf tournaments this summer because he wants to improve his game.

"The best way to get better is to play with people that are better than you," said Thornberry, a junior-to-be at Cal State Stanislaus and 2002 Ceres High graduate.

Thornberry finished 22nd in a field of 35 at the 11th Sahalee Players Championship--the first leg of amateur golf's Western Swing--held at Sahalee Golf & Country Club in Sammashish, Wash., July 7-10.

He shot a 6-over-par 78 on Friday and just missed qualifying for the fourth and final round at the elite tournament.

"It was disappointing not making the last round but it was a good experience playing with these guys," Thornberry said. "It was a really good field."

The lowest 21 scorers for the first 54 holes advanced.

Thornberry tied for 20th through three rounds at 9-over 225 with Spokane's David Fern and Hacienda Heights' Ryan Carter. Fern and Carter were awarded the final two spots after outlasting Thornberry in a 4-hole sudden death playoff.

Thornberry would have finished much higher in the standings and avoided the sudden death playoff if he didn't struggle in the third round.

He double bogeyed No. 12 and 15, and bogeyed No. 4, 9 and 13.

"I wasn't very happy with the way I played in the last round," Thornberry said. "I hit it in the trees a couple of times and got some bad bounces on the back nine."

Thornberry sat in a three-way tie for 17th heading into the third round.

He carded his best score, an even-par 72, in the second round on Thursday. He had two birdies, 14 pars and two bogeys.

Thornberry opened the championship with a 3-over 75 on Wednesday. He had one birdie, 13 pars and four bogeys.

Approximately 36 players vied for the tournament title, including NCAA Division I champion Ryan Moore, a senior-to-be at UNLV, James Nitties, the current No. 1 golfer in Australia, James Lepp, the current No. 1 golfer in Canada, and Michael Sim, an Australian National Team golfer.

Moore took first as he shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday for a 72-hole total of 16-under 272. Nitties, Sim and Lepp placed second (277), third (282) and eighth (289), respectively.

Thornberry will play in the 103rd Pacific Northwest Amateur Championship--the second leg of the Western Swing--to be held at Overlake Golf & Country Club in Bellevue, Wash., July 12-17.

"I'm looking forward to this week," Thornberry said. "My first goal is to qualify for match play and see what happens from there."