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April 3, 2003

Paul Stankowski


TODD BUDNICK: First round, 3-under 69, and you're a past champion here, good way to start here.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, a fine start. Very unexpected in that if my amateur partners saw how I hit it yesterday, they were ducking for cover most of the day. I got it kind of figured out a little bit and hit enough good shots to give myself enough opportunities and made a few putts and here we are.

So, I'm encouraged. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and found one today. It's a good start.

TODD BUDNICK: You made five straight cuts and then missed your last three. Was there something that wasn't going well the last three weeks?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Actually, the West Coast, I took two weeks off and went out to Honda just ready to continue on what I was doing. The West Coast, I didn't hit the ball particularly well, but I just scored well, or I scored okay. My teacher and I just tried to get my right elbow down a little better at Honda. I have a tendency to get wide and a little funky and that was odd. I hit a couple ugly shots early at Honda; shot look a 78 on that golf course while everybody else was shooting 60. It was better the next day and was encouraged.

At Bay Hill, I hit it solid and just didn't score well. Last week, I didn't score well. All in all, working on getting this down and somewhere between Friday at Jacksonville and yesterday, it started creeping again and I started hitting some really bad shots. Just trying to get it down. I fought all day with keeping the right arm from flying, and I only hit two ugly shots, but none of them felt really good, you know what I mean. It was one of those days that didn't feel all that good, but I kept looking at it, the ball was going on-line. I made a couple good, clutch putts. I missed a bunch early, but all in all, I rolled it well and I'm encouraged. It was a good day.

Q. The last couple weeks you have not scored as well as you hit the ball; but today, you scored better than you hit it?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: You know, I actually hit the ball pretty close to my target today. I didn't feel great doing it, you know what I mean. I got what I could have out of my round today. I maybe could have got a little more. I made a couple clutch 8-, 10-foot par putts, which were big, and I have not been doing that lately. The last three weeks, I really didn't make many putts.

So that part is really encouraging. We all know you have to putt well out here to score well, and I've been rolling it good the last couple of weeks and not getting them to go in, and today, I made a couple. That's what it's all about.

Q. What was clicking best for you today?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I was starting the ball on-line. I got a couple good breaks. I got a great break on 18. Kind of came out of a tee shot and putted on the right edge of the fairway and instead of going down to the trap, it kicked left and stayed in the fairway. Then I hit a 3-wood into the green from 260 and flopped it. Hit the pine tree right of the green up in the pine tree and it came down and rolled down in the bunker and got it up-and-down for birdie. Who knows what I could have made there. But, you've got to have those breaks. Tiger gets them all the time. It's nice to get a break.

Other than that, like I say, I hit the ball on-line. Nothing really got out of control. So that's good. I'm not completely confident because I know that it's flying and I hit five -- five times, I reloaded in the Pro-Am . It was pretty sick off the tee yesterday. And today I drove the ball a lot better.

Q. Have you gradually gotten more of a feel for this course over the years or do you still like the old place?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: No, I love this golf course. The first time I saw it -- any golf course that doesn't have a lot of rough, generous landing areas, I don't like to play as much. Atlanta Country Club has some really tough driving holes for me, a few hard right-to-left holes. I cut the ball, and so that was a big bonus. That golf course didn't really suit me. But I just happened to be clicking this week.

This golf course suits my game a lot better than the other place. I've had some decent weeks here, but I do like the golf course, big greens. But you've got to hit good shots. You can't just hit it all over the lot here, because if you do that, you're in bad positions off the tees, and some of these greens you have to be on the right side. But I like the golf course a lot.

Q. The greens are firming up --

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, the greens are rocks. The 10th hole I hit a full sand wedge into the green and it released 35 feet. The pin is over on the top left, and I'm the guinea pig and the first guy to hit in the group and I'm wondering, "Are they soft or what?" I hit the ball just on the top of the hill, it was 8 feet in the air. I thought, oh, my gosh, I'm curious to see what they are doing today out there, because they are firm. There's no moisture in these greens whatsoever.

Q. Playing in the Pro-Am, being a tour pro, does that hurt your confidence or because you worked on the elbow thing you were okay with it?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: It definitely was not confident coming out this morning. It was a bummer because I saw some really good stuff happening the last couple weeks. I hit a lot of good shots. I hit a couple funky shots, but for the most part I hit a lot of shots, iron shots, right on-line and I was driving the ball much more consistently. Yesterday was sick, I hit 40-yard blocks and 40-yard hooks, on consecutive holes, and today I just told myself -- I picked the best spot I could off the tee and said, "You know what, don't worry about what happened in the past and just take a confident swing at that target." For the most part, I hit it solid. I definitely wasn't -- I'm not comfortable right now off the tee. The irons, I'm right on that edge; it could go this way or it could go that way. After yesterday's round, I was discouraged because I had been building and then I went off the other side.

So, it was fun today to kind of be able to suck it up and hit some shots. It's not always pretty out here.

Q. You said that you are not entirely comfortable, given that, how do you feel about tomorrow, do you think it will be like today or different?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I'm sure it will be like today. I hit a few balls on the range, just left-to-right, just terrible for me, especially for what I'm trying to work on. I hit about ten shots on the range and realized that it's not going to get any better right now. So if I sit there for an hour and a half trying to work it out, I'm going to get frustrated, so I just said, forget it, go home, have some lunch, get my neck worked on and I'll deal with it tomorrow. It's not a quick fix. This is something that's a work-in-progress. It's a comfort thing. Right now, I'm not completely comfortable. I proved today that even being uncomfortable with a swing and setup and whatever, I could still get it done. So, we'll take it as it comes.

Q. What time were you up today?


Q. Is that a bad thing or is that what you're used to having?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Getting up at 7 -- I had to see off at 7:00.

Q. In the years since you won the Atlanta tournament, do you still get that little memory recharge when you come in for this tournament?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, obviously, with a different venue, it's different. But like I say any golf course I like, I get fired up for. It would be nice to play well here this week. I know I can, and it would be nice to win this week.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through your birdies. First one came on 15?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: 15, I hit driver, 8-iron to 15 feet.

18, I hit driver, 3-wood just in the right bunker. Hit it out to about eight feet.

Bogey on 2 was a little 9-iron 20 feet behind the hole, 3-putted. Just about a 3-footer.

No. 3, I hit a 2-iron and a sand wedge to about an inch.

4, I hit driver, 3-wood just through the green on the fringe and 2-putted from 50 feet.

End of FastScripts....

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