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Delighted to receive an invitation to participate, Jimmie Thorne didn’t expect to win the golf tournament.
But he did.
And by virtue of winning the Global Enterprise Connect (GEC) Open at Tema Golf Club in Tema Ghana, the 64-year-old Thorne, a Wilson native, has qualified for the Dubai Corporate Golf World Cup to be contested in Accra, the capital of the West African country of Ghana.
Thorne will be one of four Ghanian representatives in a field of golfers from 34 countries.
The retired sergeant in the U.S. Marines and a correctional officer spends most of his time in Ghana with his missionary organization, the Thorne Foundation for Children of Ghana.
He is currently spending a few days in Wilson, where he owns a home. Thorne, one of 12 siblings, also plans to devote time not only to repairs to the house but with his four children and grandchildren — some of whom he has never seen.
Thorne competed in the GEC open for the first time as a 13-handicapper. The Stableford system, based upon handicaps and accordingly awarding points for birdies, pars, bogeys, eagles, double eagles and holes-in-one, was utilized.
With nine pars and nine bogeys, Thorne accumulated 35 points to tie for first place in a field of 100-plus golfers. The playoff consisted of Thorne and the female golfer who deadlocked him playing the No. 18 layout. Thorne prevailed with a bogey.
However, Thorne noted the female golfer was also awarded a berth in the World Cup.
“Oh, my God!” Thorne exclaimed. “This is the greatest. I only took up golf four years ago and I didn’t expect to win. But bogeys are good and I didn’t have any double bogeys. I’m honored. It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”
Thorne revealed golfers in Ghana number approximately 200 and invitations are issued to individuals representing a wide array of industries that contribute massively to the Ghanian economy.
His foundation is a non-governmental organization that primarily digs wells in jungles.
“We try to dig wells as close to the village as we can and where we can find water,” he explained.
In areas where the water is dirty, natives must navigate a dangerous journey with a container on their heads. They are subject to be attacked by wild animals or other humans.
Thorne has been residing in Ghana for approximately a decade.
“When I retired, I knew I wanted to travel,” he said. “I met a Ghanian in New York and he told me about the country.”
Thorne added with a laugh: “He lied to me, but I visited and fell in love with the people and fell in love with the place.”
He now resides in a four-bedroom home. In his spare time, he’s a judge for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and an official for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Thorne is also addicted to golf.
“I just bought a $2,000 set of clubs,” he disclosed, again laughing. “I have to look the part. I can’t go there (World Cup) looking sloppy.
He won the first of two Ghanian qualifiers in intermittent rain. He suggests the weather gave him an advantage.
“I had played in the rain all week,” he noted.
The World Cup champion will earn a substantial amount of money to donate to charity.
“It’s the charity of your choice,” Thorne pointed out, “and I would like to win that money. I am certain other people are just as deserving, but I’m selfish.”
Nonetheless, Thorne is elated to be representing Ghana — and Wilson, North Carolina. He said the U.S. flag will fly along aside the Ghanian national flag at the World Cup.