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May 27, 2021

Paul Stankowski

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

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Southern Hills Country Club

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship here at Southern Hills, Tulsa Oklahoma. We are joined by Paul Stankowski who opened up his championship with a 2-over par 72 today. He is one of our PGA club professionals and we'll ask him about that in a moment, but let's first ask about your round. Looks like a lot of steady play, couple ups and downs on the back side, but overall do you like your position here after 18.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, you know, I'm really encouraged by the way I played. I wasn't crisp all day, I hit a lot of really quality shots, I just tried to play smart golf around the golf course. That's what you got to do here. I made a couple kind of bone head moves off tees on 9 and 18. Pulled driver out on both holes and I know better. Tried to squeeze them down there and I paid the price. Actually shanked my 8-iron on my last hole so that's always fun to hit a shank. But my son got a chuckle out of that one. But, yeah, I think all in all, I mean I do, I feel all right. I would love to have shot even par versus 2-over, but I am encouraged. I haven't played a ton of competitive golf over the last I don't even know what year it is. Seven years. So to get a chance to compete in a major, my first major on the Champions Tour and it's fun.

JOHN DEVER: What is it like jumping into this role? We talked a lot at the Ocean Course the PGA club professionals in the field, but this is running parallel to that and maybe it doesn't get as much attention. It's harder for you focus toss practice and kind of get in ship shape in your game, but you still come out here and you perform. How much pride goes into that and to represent the 20,000 PGA professionals around the nation.

PAUL STANKOWSKI: You know, I've never folded a shirt in my life, I've never worked behind the counter as a life member of the PGA of America I was able to compete in the qualifying for the national qualifier back in the fall and was able to finish in the top 35 to get here. So it's kind of a back door entry into the PGA Championship. So my hat's off -- I've always thought that the PGA professional is the back bone of the game of golf. They drive the game. They grow the game. As a kid I grew up on a nine-hole Navy course in southern California and my head pro, Jim Ford, he lined us up on the range in the summertime and taught us grip and posture and stance, sets up stuff. He really poured a lot of attention into the junior golfers. So I'm appreciative of that. And then as I've gotten older to be a part of some really cool clubs over the years, through college, the Bill Eschenbrenners of the world, Bill's been in the PGA of America for I don't know 50 years and was a head professional at El Paso Country Club and so learned a lot from him and I respect the club pro. The PGA TOUR, it's like the wish bone of golf, right? Sometimes you get there, sometimes you don't. But my hat's off to all the club pros and I feel like I say, I really don't belong, because I've never worked behind the counter, I've never run a club, those guys bust their butt and they don't get a chance to come out and practice and they're teaching, they're running the shop, they're running staff and so I applaud them, all the guys who really, like I say, they may have two weeks to grind to get to the qualifier and then some of the guys I played with in at PGA Golf Club back in October in the nationals, he's like, I haven't played any golf since then. But with COVID all the clubs are busy and so everyone's working their butt off and with staffing issues, the head professionals and the guys behind the counter, the assistant pros, they're out there working carts as well. So I mean their days are long and there again I fully respect our club pros and I'm honored to be a part of the PGA of America. I've been a member for 27 years through the PGA TOUR, but I'm still honored to be a part and to represent the 35 here this week.

JOHN DEVER: Are you happy to be in, to have your 18 holes, to have signed your scorecard while the other half of the field has to maybe wait out some weather here?

PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah, it's always nice to finish. We knew that the forecast was going to be a little sketchy today and we were hoping that it's going to be later in the day, hopefully it's after play and hopefully it just skates us. This golf course has improved immensely from -- I showed up Sunday afternoon, played a few holes, and balls were getting no roll whatsoever, grasses were long because they have had a lot of rain here in Tulsa is so they hadn't had an opportunity to really get it in tip top shape. They did. It's phenomenal. It's playing fairly firm, no mud balls, a lot of balls chasing down the fairway. So the agronomy staff here has done a great job, the golf course is phenomenal, I love the design, the setup is amazing. They moved a couple tees up today and it challenged us. So let's hope all the big hail and the heavy rains miss this little corner of Tulsa, because it would be fun to see with the north breezes the next few days, little cooler temperatures, I would love to see a firm, fast golf course for the rest of the week. But so fingers crossed there.

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