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Posted April 07, 2019 04:04 pm
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Oklahoma teen Ryder Cowan celebrates birthday as Drive, Chip and Putt finalist

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    Ryder Cowan attempts his first putt during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDY NELSON/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Ryder Cowan lines up his second putt during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDY NELSON/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Ryder Cowan is congratulated by Condoleezza Rice after putting during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. [ANDY NELSON/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Ryder Cowan summed up his first visit to Augusta National in three words.

“Best birthday ever,” said Cowan, 13, of Edmond, Okla.

Cowan turns 14 on Monday and finished second in the boys 12-13 age division. His father, Sean, served as his caddie and was also making his first trip to Augusta.

See photos from Sunday Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals

“My dad was so pumped,” Cowan said. “This was the first time he’s seen the course too, so to be able to share this together was really cool. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Despite placing second, the competition got off to a rough start for Cowan. He pulled his opening tee shot left of the fairway, putting pressure on his second — and final — attempt.

“I couldn't believe I did that,” Cowan said of his first drive. “I just lifted my head and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”

With pressure mounting, the Oklahoma teenager striped his second attempt 253 yards to place second in the driving portion of the competition. Cowan also placed second in the chipping event, while tying for fifth in putting. Matthew Vital, of Bethlehem, Pa., captured first overall. 

“Right when we drove in I thought, ‘Wow, this is where I get to play?’ ” Cowan said. “The course is amazing and I can’t wait to see all of it tomorrow. It looks way different up close than it does on TV.”

Cowan and his dad will return to Augusta National tomorrow for an official birthday celebration. As for next year, although Cowan will advance to the 14-15 age division, his goal remains the same.

“I want to be back,” he said. “I really want to make it back next year — that’s my No. 1 goal.”