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Posted April 07, 2019 04:04 pm
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Ryan Nana Tanke finishes second in Drive, Chip and Putt finals

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    Ryan Nana Tanke hits one of his drives during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Making the trip from Paris to Augusta was well worth it for 8-year-old Ryan Nana Tanke, who finished second in his age category at the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on Sunday.

Ryan participated in the Boys 7-9 category. The third-grader totaled 21 points overall, earning nine points in the driving category, seven in chipping and five in putting.

See photos from Sunday Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals

“It was exciting,” Ryan’s coach, Warren Bottke, said regarding his student’s second-place finish. “We couldn’t ask for a better scenario. We were looking at getting to the putting either in first or tied for first, so you couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

Not all athletes begin playing a sport as a baby, but Tanke started at the early age of 2.

“My dad got me some plastic clubs,” Ryan said. “So I practiced in my house.”

The Paris resident finished second in the driving category, recording drives of 183 and 184 yards. Tanke’s father, Christian, said that his son was smashing drives over 220 yards while practicing Saturday, but that he instructed him to swing easier in order to maximize his chances of reaching the fairway.

His father, who is from Cameroon, had him registered at the golf academy in Paris when he was 3. The coaches at the academy told Christian that his son was an excellent player especially for his age. That’s when he decided to get him lessons in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

That's where Bottke, a nationally renowned coach, gives Ryan lessons. The South Florida PGA Hall of Fame member has worked with three-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Ryan said after the competition that he wanted to get first place. Bottke said that he sees Ryan’s desire to win on a regular basis.

“He’s very, very competitive,” Bottke said. “He’s a hard worker, has a good work ethic and he knows that he’s a perfectionist and that he wants to win. He goes at it 110 percent. I told him that sometimes it’s going to be your day and sometimes its not.”

Tanke’s father said he is proud that his son represented so many places at the Drive, Chip and Putt competition.

“He represents Paris because that’s where he lives,” he said. “That’s where he gets most of his training. But he also represents Florida. He qualified at TPC Sawgrass and trains in Florida every summer for a couple months. He also represents Cameroon, because he has a passport from there. He represents a lot of people.”