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May 10, 2002

Paul Stankowski


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to welcome Paul Stankowski to the media center. Great round today, 65. You are currently tied for second place at 8-under par. Talk about your round today and a little bit about how your week is going. Obviously, pretty well.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah going well. I played solid again today and made some good key putts for pars and few good birdie putts, and just all and all just kept the ball in play and I hit solid.

Q. Is it tougher conditions today?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: It was just different. It's normal for this course. Yesterday was different actually with the north winds blowing, but I don't think I've ever played Cottonwood with the north wind. So the south wind was very normal, and it wasn't swirling a whole lot, just pretty consistent, pretty constant out of the southeast. Greens were a lot softer than they were yesterday. All the greens and the fairways were little softer so the balls were stopping, and yeah, all and all it was about normal here for the Byron.

Q. What would it means to win here in your backyard?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Would it mean a lot? I haven't won since 1997 so, yeah, it would be nice to win again. And at home in front of family an friends it would be good as well. Byron's tournament would be huge. Plus the field is great. There's a lot of reasons that it would be nice to win, and more importantly I just -- it would be nice to win.

Q. What is your game plan going into the weekend?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Just keep hitting solid shots and swinging like I need to swing.

Q. Extra boost of adrenaline because it is your hometown?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Not really, no. It's golf. Doesn't change week to week to me. I try and handle each tournament the same way. Whether it is the B.C. Open or the U.S. Open, doesn't really matter. So no, I just -- it's golf. I am just trying to hit good golf shots.

Q. What are the main reasons or reason that you haven't won since 1997? Where has your game been? Has it dropped off or tougher competition or --

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I would say the main reason is because I haven't shot lower than everybody week to week. I don't know. What's funny is I feel like I am a better player today. I feel I am -- I am older, so you would hope that you would be smarter, but I just haven't played great golf for four days. I went through a couple of swing change arcs, a couple of attitude changes, and they were the wrong swings and the wrong attitude. So that didn't work.

So the last couple of years, I have just tried to go back to just playing golf, working -- I am working at a lot -- on a lot of good things in my golf swing but not just aimlessly slapping balls. I just thought that I needed to hit more balls because I never practiced. Back when I was playing well, late '96 or 1997 when I was winning, I never practiced. So I thought maybe if I practiced a little bit more, I will win more. And it went backwards.

Had a few minor injuries, nothing major. I started trying too hard, you know, trying to win, on Thursday. And I think the last couple of years going back to just playing -- just playing golf, being patient in spots and not trying to force the issue, you know, has helped. That's still one of my biggest weaknesses: I play a little too aggressively.

I am working on that. Being aggressive is good, but at times I am stupid aggressive. I just always get zeroed in on flags, and so that's the big thing for me. I think if I could go ahead and master the art of picking and choosing when to be aggressive and when to be conservative, I think I am going to win again and more often.

It seems like, you know, a lot of guys out here have enough game to win on a week-to-week basis. Pretty much everybody. The guys who do -- who are there more often seem to pick their spots. I watch -- am a big fan of golf. I watch golf on TV. I watch Tiger a lot, and I watch the fact that he never makes big mistakes. He doesn't make mistakes. And there's other guys that do make mistakes, and granted they still win, but they don't win as much as they should.

So that -- it's pretty evident that, you know, you just got to pick and choose your spots. I am still -- I have been here nine years, but I still feel like I am still learning, so one of these days I will get it and it will work out.

Q. Gone back to not practicing?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: No. I still practice, but I am working on the right stuff. My teacher, Mike Wilson - and I don't like to say he rebuilt my golf swing - but we have definitely made some really good changes. They may not look like much. It actually looks like a lot. I am really encouraged what we have been doing, but I have been working on the right things, working physically on getting stronger and also working on the golf swing so that -- but in the past I just would hit balls. My game, my swing, was very simple but had a lot of moving parts to it. I had one shot, I hit a big cut for all of the -- sophomore year in college to about beginning of 1999, I hit one shot. I couldn't hit a draw to save my life. I didn't want to hit a draw, so if I had to hit one, I just hit my cut and took my lumps and 2-putted from 40 feet.

But I tried to change my game and tried to hit draws and tried to -- all of a sudden, now I could hit a draw and then I was confused. I didn't know which way to play it. All of a sudden, I had so much doubt creeping into my game. And so I have been really working on bettering my golf swing, simplifying my golf swing, but yet going back to the same left-to-right shot, and I like where I am at. I am making progress and going to keep on plugging and, you know, I am 32. Got a lot of time.

Q. What is the pressure like of having won on Tour then trying to find a way to win again?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I think a lot -- the pressure that's bad is the stuff you put on yourself. And that's -- I put too much pressure on myself to win more often or trying to win more often, trying to get -- trying to get better as opposed to just letting it happen. I just didn't do it the right way.

So you may not understand what I am saying, and that's cool because I don't understand what I am saying half the time too, but simplifying things is the best for me. I can't get too complicated. I can't try -- golf is a very simple game. It is complex, but it is simple, and sometimes I try and make it too big and it is just not -- it is just a game, and fairways and greens, fairways and greens, make some putts you are going to play well, and that's simple as it gets.

Q. What does it mean you have gone back to playing golf, were you playing swing for --

PAUL STANKOWSKI: When I tee it up on Thursday I teed it up yesterday or today I am not out there trying to win golf tournaments, I am not out there trying to shoot a number. I am just trying to hit golf shots. So I step up on the 1st tee today I am looking down the fairway. I pick at my tree and I am hitting my shot. That's it, that's all I am thinking about. And I think for a time there I got too caught up in everything, the media, I was playing good with the Furyks and Justins and the young-guns-thing and you get kind of swept up into that, and you know it is fun, I dreamt about playing golf my whole life and so four years into my professional career in '96 I win - heck, that was two years into my career, so I am winning all these tournaments and I am doing what I love to do, and I am reading the papers and I am bowing (sic) up and I am thinking, all right, I am pretty good. It is a humbling game. I got humbled pretty well, pretty hard. That's what I mean by just playing golf just going out and playing not worrying about what guys write about. Not worrying about what people think because it doesn't help me play golf. It makes me feel good, sure, I love to have been mentioned in the same breath as those guys back in 1997 and it was a lot of fun. I have got a lot of cool things that I can tell my kids about, and I have won on the PGA TOUR at the highest level, and living a dream. Every kid dreams of doing, is whether it is baseball or golf, doctor, fireman, whatever, if they can live that dream, it's awesome so I am doing what I dreamt of doing my whole life, and it's a lot of fun. So... Yeah, it's cool.

Q. Is it hard to make that -- get that balance between stupid aggressive and obviously trying to fire the pins if you can?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, it's just it takes time. Like anything, it takes time. It takes time to learn to be patient. And I am still learning, but I think that the sooner I get it, the better off I am going to be. Because you can't -- you can try and force the issue and it -- like the Amen Corner you can go at it and play it really aggressively and one day you can play it 3- or 4-under par. The next day you can shoot 4, 5-over par. So it's not going to pay off everyday. I learned a good lesson last year at one of my events -- there's one hole in particular that we play during the year that seems to eat my lunch every year because I am overly aggressive. I was always -- it's 15 in New Orleans and it's a par 5, island green and I love the tee shot. Water right, bunker perfect to aim at. I hit a low-cut. I drive it there perfect everyday, I got 200 yards to the front or less everyday, and I think I have played it 20 times and I have hit it in the water 12, I don't care if it's 7-iron or 4. So last year after the third round I said you know what, maybe I will just hit a 2-iron off the tee, so I can't go for the green and I did and I laid up and made birdie. This year, first round of the tournament, playing with Bob May and the guy in front of us had laid up with a 2-iron off the tee. My plan was to hit 2-iron. Bob says so and so, he's laying up. If any day is a go-day, today is a go-day, wind off the right, perfect for hitting driver. I am going, hmmm, I guess I am not hitting 2-iron. I haven't learned yet. I hit driver, made birdie on the hole but -- actually I hit driver in the rough intentionally so I would have to lay up and he hit in the middle of the fairway and made double and I made birdie. I am still learning my lesson. Those are the little things there that I am not afraid to say that I failed miserably at times playing the right shot. That day the right shot was hit a 2 iron off the tee but since my ego or my pride couldn't do it because I knew I would get ripped on by Bob May because he made a comment about the guy in front of me, so I said forget it, I am hitting the rough and just blew it in the rough. It's a silly game. It's a stupid game at times. But it's a great game as well, and I just got to be smart. So I am not going to hit perfect golf shots all day long but if I play smart golf shots or smart lines, a bad shot shouldn't hurt me too badly.

Q. Do you think you could get caught into that again?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: If I did it then I will probably do it again. I don't know. Who knows.

Q. What do you think when you watch Mickelson on TV too aggressive?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: No comment. I am not going to comment on him. I said something earlier, I think you can deduce it. Some players do play overly aggressive. More players should watch Tiger, I think. He's smart. He's great player but he's also real smart.

End of FastScripts....

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