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Former Warrior hits the links on PGA Latin tour
Ryan Thornberry has been playing professional golf since 2007. The former Cal State Stanislaus star is currently a competitor on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica circuit. - photo by Photo Contributed

Golf will always be a part of Ryan Thornberry’s life.

The former Cal State Stanislaus All-American has been competing at the professional level for seven years.

“I have a lot of respect and love for the game,” said Ryan, 29. “It’s my job and livelihood. It teaches you a lot about yourself and life. If you have any weaknesses, they’re going to show up. You go through peaks and valleys. It’s very humbling at times.”

Thornberry, who’s invested more than 20 years of his life into the sport, aspires to earn a PGA Tour card.

He would join the ranks of the most elite class of professional golfers in the world, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

“I don’t really have a timeline,” Ryan said. “I have the belief I’m going to make it. I have to put the time and effort in to get there. A lot of guys play their best golf in their 30s.”

Thornberry began play on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica circuit for the second year in a row in March.

The 2013 season features 15 events in nine countries.

The top five players on the money list earn Tour status, which is equivalent to being promoted to Triple-A in baseball, for the following season.

Ryan’s participated in four events this year.

He placed 78th at the 55 Abierto de Golf, 96th at the Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational Copa NEC, 102nd at the 82 Abierto OSDE del Centro and 116th at the TransAmerican Power Products CRV Open.

The Latinoamerica series will resume in September and conclude in December.

“It’s all about getting experience and taking the next step,” Ryan said. “I’ve been very close in the past. I love challenges. I’m a perfectionist and don’t take no for an answer.”

Thornberry was 30th on the 2012 PGA Tour Latinoamerica money list ($13,785.82).

He competed in 9 of 11 tournaments between Sept. 3 and Dec. 16.

Ryan’s best finish was at the Puerto Rico Classic in November.  He placed sixth and won $4,500.

He also participated in the Mundo Maya Open (Merida, Mexico), TransAmerican Power Products Open (Monterrey, Mexico), Arturo Calle Colombian Open (Bogota, Columbia), Brazil Open (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Roberto De Vicenzo Invitational (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Dominican Republic Open (Punta Cana, DR), Olivos Golf Classic (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and Visa Open (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

Thornberry earned full status on PGA Tour Latinoamerica after tying for fourth at Doral Q-school.

He previously played on the Canadian and eGolf tours.

“It’s a different way of life down there (Latin America region),” he said. “The pace of life is a little quicker. The one thing that stands out is people are not stuck on material things. It’s been a pretty cool experience. I’m trying to savor as much as it as possible.”

Passionate about golf, Thornberry will continue his journey down a path that could lead to a rewarding payoff.

“I have some close friends that have played on the PGA Tour for years,” Thornberry said. “Other friends have quit. I have good people around me who I look to for advice. They still believe in me. I still believe in myself. I’m happy and content with what I’m doing. That’s all that matters. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. It puts everything in perspective.”

Ryan was a four-time, All-American at Cal State Stanislaus. He won seven NCAA events, including the NCAA Division-II West Regional.

He captured the 2006 Northern California Amateur Championship and the 2001 Northern California Junior Amateur.

Thornberry, a 2002 Ceres High graduate, helped lead the Bulldogs varsity boys golf team to a perfect 18-0 record in the Central California Conference regular-season standings during his final prep season. Ryan was named the CCC’s Most Valuable Player for the third year in a row. He also claimed his second straight title at the conference championships. Thornberry averaged 1.5 strokes under par on the season.

“I’ve been playing golf since I was seven years old,” Ryan said. “It’s given me a lot in my lifetime. I’m very thankful for it.”