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February 18, 2001

Paul Stankowski


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Paul Stankowski for joining us in the interview room. Great week, 32-under. Bet you didn't expect to come in here and be runner-up today.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Well, yeah. I knew I had to shoot a low one today to catch Joe, because he was obviously playing lights-out all week. You know, today the conditions were identical and ideal I thought. Actually, last night I was going through the golf course in my mind, and in my mind I shot 61, and, yeah. I finished birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle for 61. I went out there today, I hit it three feet on 17. On 17th tee I was thinking, if I can finish 2, 3, 61, you never know. I hit a good shot and I hit a bad putt. It would not have mattered anyway. He'd have finished 1, 2, maybe. I'm obviously pleased with my week. I'm pleased with my round today. I hit the ball really well two days this week, and it was on this golf course both times. I spent a lot of time on Monday and Tuesday and on Friday with my teacher working on some good things in my golf swing and so I'm excited about finding -- I guess, finally allowing him to tell me what to do, and I guess, listen. I'm hard-headed at times. And I hit it good. I hit it good today. I can't complain. I missed a few putts out there early, 1, 2, 3. I had some good makeable ones -- and on 17. So it really didn't even matter then, because I still would not have won. I'm pleased. I gave it my best for five days. A little disappointed, because I wanted it; I wanted it bad. But, I make my way out tonight and head to L.A..

Q. We've been sort of asking you all this week. The scores are bordering almost on the obscene they are so low. The guys are great players and the conditions are good. How do you explain this, though? What do we write to reference that, why they are so remarkably low?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: This year as a whole so far? You know, I would say first and foremost, the players are just getting better. Say what you want about equipment, technology. The players are getting better. We can talk about technology. You know, yeah, sure technology has gotten better. Guys are more physically fit than ever. The mowers are cutting fairways at great heights. The superintendents are getting the golf courses in great shape, so the balls roll fatherer in the fairway. Guys are hitting it far and greens are getting better for the most part. That's got to do it. Tiger has obviously raised the bar. You know, I think it is just a matter of time before guys start catching up to what he's doing, and it's just -- yeah. It's a matter of time. I think we're seeing some of the fruits of Tiger Woods being on Tour.

Q. Is that a different mindset though waking up every morning knowing that you have to shoot 65 or 66 to avoid losing ground?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: You know here, it's the bottom line. If you shoot 68 or 69, you are losing ground, but it's been that way for years.

Q. You knew coming in today you had to shoot a low number to have any kind of chance at all. How much of a confidence-builder is it, you did what you needed to do, but obviously the result isn't what you wanted. You did what you had to do; how much can you build on from that?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I'm going to take a lot from this week. I shot a couple rounds -- a couple decent rounds in Phoenix to start the week off. I played poorly on the weekend. I put three decent rounds together at San Diego to give myself a chance there and shot 78 on Sunday. I was very, very disappointed there. I felt great Sunday morning in San Diego. I wasn't hitting the ball that great, but I was getting it done for three days in a row; I thought, why not four? But it caught up with me. So coming out today, completely different mindset. I knew I was swinging good at it, and if I put good golf swings on it, I was going to hit great golf shots. So it was not a matter of -- I didn't have to doubt myself or question myself which way the ball was going to go. I just knew if I got back on it and stayed back on it, get the arms down, I was going to hit a good golf shot. That's all I keyed on all week. I wanted to make a bunch of birdies early, and the first three holes, I came up dry. But I kept plugging. I knew that, gosh, anything out here is possible. I've made eagle every round. I knew there were some makeable, short par 5s here, or reachable ones. I figured I could make a couple eagles -- you just never know. You can't give up and I didn't give up. I'm really excited about just the attitude that I've had the last couple weeks. Even Sunday last week, not once did I quit. I never gave up. I was fighting to the end and, you know, I just felt like I got beat up, and I wasn't going to allow it this week, and I wanted to go out there and just keep plugging and let it happen. I know I've got the game out here too. Again, it's been a while, but I feel like I've spent enough time in the valley and I'm heading back to the mountains, because I'm tired of this dry spell. So I wanted it this week. I thought I could get it done. I knew that I had to shoot low today. I felt good about it. I did everything that I needed to do. Joe was just too darned good.

Q. You mentioned seeing the fruits of Tiger on TOUR and we spend all our days writing and talking about Tiger, but we don't talk about Joe Durant. What can you tell us about Joe Durant?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: If you guys spent a little time looking at other players, maybe you'd know.

Q. You mentioned the Tiger factor yourself?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Sure. It's hard not to see him. But TV, he's all over the TV, he's all over the media. You ask the average golf fan who some of these guys are, they have no idea because they don't show them. There's great players on this TOUR, and just because they are not Tiger Woods doesn't mean they should not get any recognition. I understand, you want to showcase the superstar, and that's great. If I watched the Lakers and all they showed was the bench, I would be a little bummed. I like watching Kobe and Shaq going at it. But it's also hurting the Tour, I think, because people don't understand and don't know who the other guys are. They think it's just Tiger and Duval and Mickelson and Davis. There are a lot of good players out here. We have pretty good players. There are some players here who are in the Top-10 in the world, but where are they at? But that's the Tour. It's so deep, week-in and week-out you have a lot of players that can do anything week-in, week-out. Obviously, the best players in the world are going to be there, most of the time, but there's a lot of great players. I just wish that guys like Joe Durant and myself and Lickliter and some of the other guys, I wish they would get a little more press or more TV time, because it just doesn't happen.

Q. You talk about raising the bar and that term has been used the last couple years. Golf is not like football where you can say, okay, we're going to shove that defensive lineman out of the way. In other words, how do you improve your golf? You can't just go out and say, I'm going to hit the ball 320 now, or make 20-foot putts. Can you just get a little sharper mentally or just concentrate on the game a little more?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I would have to say the mental side of golf is what separates the best players in the world from the rest. Obviously, there's some physical aspect in there, there's no question. But you put my mind in Tiger Woods in 1997, '98, '99; he couldn't hit it good. Give me his mindset those two years, if he would have hit it bad, I would have played a lot better. Tiger goes out every week, he has no fear whatsoever. He has complete confidence in his game, and he knows that even when he's not playing well, he's going to have a chance. So taking that into consideration, he tees up on the first hole and he's firing away. He's got no fear, no doubt, no question, and that's where it's at. The guy who can master the minds is the guy who is going to play well all the time.

Q. Is it a chicken-and-egg thing though, or do you have to get your mind set to play well or do you have to play well to get the mind set?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: That's the mystery. I think it is the mindset first. You've got to -- you've just got to overcome it. You've got to be able to distinct that you are the best, just have confidence. I understand your question. It's definitely -- is it the chicken, is it the egg?

Q. How low do you think the scores can go, not necessarily in this tournament, but when will we see a 58?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: July 31 ... Scores are going to continue to be good. Unless you start putting greens out there like the ones we've had on the West Coast where it is kind of hard to make putts. You put rocks in the bunkers and you grow the rough in the fairways. You do that, and it might get kind of challenging. But golf courses -- especially here in the desert, and you guys see it here. Joe's going to shoot 37- or 38 (-under) this week, breaking both records this week for four- and five-day events. It shows the players are getting better and the golf courses are perfect. The weather this week, the most wind I think I played this week was five miles an hour, five yards. It's like we're playing inside a dome. This is dome golf. It doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't get any easier conditions than you have in the desert, with absolutely fantastic greens, the best greens we see all year are here. Gosh, it's a no-brainer. Guys are going to shoot low.

Q. You said you were excited about your attitude this week. You mentioned you had done some physical work on your game. Have you done some work on the mental side to change your attitude?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: A good friend of mine, Tom -- and we've talked a lot in the last couple weeks. You know, we've -- he's just kind of encouraged me to keep plugging and keep thinking to myself, a champion. I struggled in 1998 and 1999. It was a big struggle. Mostly with the physical. And I tried to stay positive. After a while, it beat you down a little bit. But last year was an encouragement to come out and start playing a little more consistently, and I gave myself some chances, but I never did finish off a week well. But I was consistent again. I just never had those good weeks. But I knew my time was coming. I'm not done out here. I'm only 31. I know I've got a lot of things left to accomplish and I'm excited about it. I never once doubted the fact that I was going to get back to where I was, and even better. But the bottom line is I had to keep it simple and I had to go out there and have fun, and it was something that I wasn't doing for a couple years, and I really struggled with the simplicity of it. I tried to make it more complicated, more difficult than it really is. I found out after two years of doing it that it just doesn't work. I'm definitely going to take a lot of this week. I'm disappointed that I didn't shoot lower. But, good night!

Q. Who is your teacher and what does he say?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: My teacher is Mike Wilson. He works out here in the desert at Desert Willow Golf Academy. He works with Mike Weir and J.P. Hayes. Great guy. I've always been kind of set in my ways, kind of stubborn. I like to cut the ball, and I'm very, just, feel-oriented and I could never feel -- any kind of a method that he was teaching, and as far as -- he knew where I needed to be through years ago. He knew all I needed to do is what I'm doing right now but I could not comprehend it. I just got it. Gosh, I'm a slow learner. (Laughs).

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: If you could go through your round.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: 4, I hit a 2-iron, 9-iron about 10 feet. No. 8, I hit -- I hit 3-wood, L-wedge, 10 feet. 9, I hit driver, pitching wedge 12 feet. Oh, I birdied 6. I hit driver, 3-wood just off the green and chipped up to two feet. The back nine -- I didn't birdie 10. I missed the shorty. 11, I hit driver, 4-iron to 30 feet and 2-putted. I hit it close on the back nine.

Q. Joe Durant, for years, among you guys, has been known out here as one of the best ball-strikers out here, but the public doesn't know it. How many better ball-strikers are there on this tour than Joe Durant?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: I don't know if I've ever even played with Joe. So I didn't know that. There's a lot of guys I haven't played with out here, but there's a lot of great ball-strikers. So, I don't know. Tiger is probably one of the best ball-strikers I think that I know.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Paul.

End of FastScripts....

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