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March 31, 2007

Paul Stankowski


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Paul Stankowski, thanks for joining us after a third round 65, 11-under par, four shots off the lead of Bubba Watson, who still has a few holes left to finish, but you're in good position heading into Sunday.
I'm sure you're happy, first and foremost, that you finished and can sleep in a little bit tomorrow.
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Yeah. Like I didn't get enough rest today. Obviously very pleased to get finished. I'm pleased with the way the day went. The golf course is in amazing condition even after the rain.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Your up and down 18, both you an Adam shot 65. He kind of short-sided him on the bunker shot. You had a tough pitch as well. Talk about that.
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I was aiming it to the the fat of the green and kind of thinned my 5-iron a little bit and came up a little bit short, and fortunately with the soft conditions, I was able to keep it out of the water and had a pretty darn good lie.
Hit it up there 4 feet and made one in the dark. Yeah, definitely nice to finish off with a par and a good save at that.
I hit a lot of good quality golf shots today and rolled the ball really well. I've been rolling it good here the last, oh, couple months.
I think I played two events in that time but just hadn't -- they hadn't gone in the hole, so today they went in the hole, which was nice.
The greens are phenomenal. Best greens we've putted on not only this year, but I can't remember better putting surfaces in my 14 years out here.
So, it makes things pretty easy when you hit it on line, you know it's going to go in, and I hit one putt today that -- I hit a lot of goods putts that went in.

Q. Any question as to whether or not you could putt out? Did it even cross your mind?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: No. Justin actually asked me if I wanted to go ahead and finish. Had a 20-footer. That was awful nice. You know, the two big scoreboards out there have these lights going. So it was actually kind of lighter there than it was in the fairway.
I had to really investigate the lie to make sure it wasn't, you know, downhill, just tough to see but, yeah, fortunate to get in.

Q. How did you spend your six hours this morning?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Laying around. My kids and wife are here. We're staying with my caddie and his kids and his wife, so there's a lot of action. I laid in the bed and listened to the kids fight all day, which was nice, and just tried to keep up with the status out here by text message. The Tour sends us messages. It was pretty easy.

Q. Is that generally how you spend it?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Usually I'm here. Fortunately, I'm renting a house right here in the community and didn't have to come over. My tee time was late enough.
Some of the guys came over for their early time and kind of got stuck here, but I saw the forecast, the big old glob of red coming at us. I knew we weren't going to be playing anytime soon. And so under those conditions, you just have to just chill and find something to do. Went to Sonic and bought some food, ate and went back and laid in bed and watched the Weather Channel. Just hung out.

Q. Paul, had you been seeing things lately where you saw a week like this coming, where you thought you might be ready to contend in a tournament? Or what's kind of been -- what was your kind of frame of mind when you got here this week?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: My frame of mind was just going to try and come out here and plug along. I changed my golf swing back in the fall. My teacher, Mike Wilson, and I have completely revamped it, and I've had two hand surgeries and a shoulder surgery in the last three years, and due to that, he told me on the range in Vegas last year that it was time to make a change.
Went from a, quote, unquote, two, three plane swing, sometimes four to the kind of the one plane thing and my version of it.
I really haven't worked with him on it too much. I think I've actually physically been with him for probably six days in that timeframe, maybe seven, but it's a real simple deal, but it's so different.
With that in mind, I've given myself this year to try and learn how to hit it. The hardest part is playing in the wind. I still haven't figured out to swing it properly all the time. I can do it pretty well, but then different lies, wind. You know, I haven't learned all those shots.
I'm like a one-trick pony right now. Fortunately it was nice and calm today and, you know, as it was -- at Q-School when I had to go through Q-School with a brand new swing.
So all that said, I really don't have any expectations other than just running my program and trying to swing the golf club the way I've been taught.

Q. Must have held up pretty well yesterday in the wind, though?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I'm learning. Just hit it over the wind. I'm just learning to adapt. That's all.

Q. Given what you've been through the last few years, what does it mean to you at this stage to be in the position you're in right now?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I'm thrilled to death to be playing golf. Two years ago -- well, '05 I missed the entire season. I played one round -- the first round of golf I played was at Pebble, and I tore a tendon in my hand and missed the entire season. I was coming off missing the entire half of the second of '04.
I did some TV, some Golf Channel stuff. I did some XM Radio stuff. I was just trying to figure out if I was any good at something other than golf. I couldn't even hold a golf club.
I'm thrilled to play. I got to play 22 times last year and didn't play particularly well, but I got to play.
And so as a kid, you know, still living a dream, it's great to be back out here. And so anytime I tee it up now, I'm thankful for just the opportunity to be able to put the peg in the ground and come out here and play against the best.
And I haven't been paired with Justin or Adam, you know, that caliber of player in a long time, and I was really looking forward to it. It was a lot of fun.
Golf is -- yeah. I don't know what else to say other than the fact I'm thankful I even get to play. Being in contention, having a chance tomorrow, that's even icing on the cake.

Q. Was that a significant measuring stick to play with guys like that right now?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: You know, no. I don't look at it that way. Because had I had a poor day, what? Would I think lower of myself? I played a good round of golf today. I hit a lot of good quality shots.
I rolled it well. You know, I kind of bounced back from shots that I wished I had done a little differently. But all in all, it was a solid round of golf.
This is how I've been hitting it lately. I just hadn't been -- the putts hadn't been going in the hole. Today was an encouragement.
I hit a ton of putts. Today I was a guy -- I used to get mad at watching the guy like me today, if that makes sense.
So I made some good putts and hit a lot of good shots.

Q. Paul, you mentioned the hand surgeries. Is it wrist surgery specifically?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: The TFCC in my wrist, the cartilage. First time I had it torn in the fall of '02, I played with it until -- I had surgery in May of '03, just a debridement. They went in there and scoped it and cleaned it up.
I retore it later on that year. Played all of -- well, first half of '04, and I couldn't take it anymore after Kemper. I don't know why I played. I played two rounds of golf, and I wanted to vomit every time I hit the shot, but I just -- you know, I like playing, you know, so I played. I couldn't take it anymore.
I had another surgery and basically rebuilt the joint, and then I came back from that and tore the tendon, the tip of that finger (indicating) doesn't really work really good. Missed the whole season.
While I was out I had the shoulder done. Torn labrum. I had fun the last three, four years. Just playing is good.

Q. So the surgery on your wrists -- not each wrist, though?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Both on the left. Two left surgeries, a torn tendon which didn't require surgery, and a left shoulder surgery.

Q. Paul, you mentioned Q-School. Did you have to go through that at the start of this year?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Fall of last year. Q-School is in the fall.

Q. I was joust wondering, you had all these injuries to deal with, you had to go through Q-School again and you were exploring these other opportunities. Was therefore a point during that period where you thought, you know, "Maybe I shouldn't give it a second shot; maybe this is it for me"?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I didn't know if I ever could play. I couldn't hold a club in my hand. With just holding it out with one hand, I was done.
I met a guy -- I went to see a guy in California, just to work on my swing. I was trying to -- still trying to swing, trying to make sure my body wasn't going to tighten up after not playing. Even though I couldn't really hold a club, I was swinging it because I couldn't not do it.
I kept -- I thought I just tore or pulled a muscle. Thought, "Okay, a couple more weeks. Couple more weeks." That lasted for three, four months.
Then finally I saw this guy. He said -- felt my hand and said, "You need to go find a guy, ART, Active Release Technique." He printed off a page of providers in Dallas. "Call one of these guys."
I called one. Went and met Troy Vanbezen. He fixed me. Eleven sessions after I saw him for the first time, I didn't have any pain in my hand, and so I had a new life.
But up until meeting Troy, I was not. I had no -- there was no plan to play. I couldn't do it.

Q. All those injuries come playing golf?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I guess. Yeah. I remember the first time I felt anything -- something in my hand was in Vegas in '02 in the fall. I got to the course. I hit a couple balls and my wrist was sore, just sore. I thought maybe it was out, needed an adjustment or something. That was the start of it.
I finished off the season, took a month off, tried to come back and it was killing me and had a couple cortisone shots and those wore off and then the surgeries came.
I've been dealing with it. Everything is healed up. I have no complaints. It's sore, gets sore. This morning it was sore. All the rain, it kind of -- gets kind of arthritic now, I guess. There's not a ton of cartilage left in there, so lot of tissue is gone and so I can feel it.
The new swing has definitely helped. It's helped to take some of the hands out of my swing so there's less banging going on, and so I'm very thankful for Troy Vanbezen and Mike Wilson for kind of straightening me out.

Q. Whose idea was that to switch the a one plane swing.
PAUL STANKOWSKI: My teacher, Mike Wilson. He had apparently read some of Hardee's stuff and was really intrigued, and bells went off, I think, in his head that all the things that he had been thinking of from a physical standpoint, from a biomechanical standpoint, made sense when he read or saw video or something. I didn't really ask him too much about it other than "Show me what you got."
And it felt awful, but the ball went straight. I was amazed. Something that felt so weird worked and it's weird. My shot pattern is different. Just it's a different deal.
So, with that in mind, like I say, I didn't expect much, but I know that when I do it right, the ball goes pretty straight, which what is we're looking for.

Q. Can you kind of contrast the degree of difficulty from yesterday to today. Pretty extreme change, isn't it?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I can't remember yesterday, it was so long ago. All I know it was wet today and yesterday wasn't. Today was a long day. I felt like we were out there for two days today, and, yeah, the golf course played as easy as we're going to find it. Fairways gotten yards wider today because the balls weren't rolling, greens got -- it was perfect, like shooting darts. It's great.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Anything else? Okay.
Paul, thank you.

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