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May 13, 2010

Paul Stankowski


DOUG MILNE: Thanks for joining us for a few minutes after a very successful round one, 5-under par 67 at the Valero Texas Open. Before we start talking specifically about the round, why don't just kind of bring us up to speed on the state of your game? I talked to you at New Orleans about your wild road adventure and driving from Georgia to Louisiana. So just maybe some comments on how you're feeling about your game as you're heading into the week.
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I feel really good about the things I'm working on with my instructor, Mike Abbott. And I had the same teacher since '91 and been floundering the last six years through injuries but the last two years with being healthy, playing awful golf and so I needed a change and I hired Mike in February in L.A. and really am encouraged.
I used to have a one-dimensional game. It was a high spinning cut. That was my shot. And we're working on stuff, actually in a position to hit low cut, low draws, high draws. I can hit all the shots now which is really exciting because I'm 40 and been playing this game for a long time. I played it one-dimensional for a long time.
So with that said, I am encouraged with where I am physically, one, how my body feels which is healthy and then, two, where I am swing-wise and it's very encouraging.
I'm rolling it good. It hasn't been the greatest of starts this year but been a very solid start. I think I missed one cut out of seven events, I think and that was in New Orleans. That was a whirlwind.
I had seen my swing deteriorate for three weeks up to that event and I withdrew -- withdrew from Athens the week after Zurich to go see my teacher in Cabo. I spent three days in Cabo the week of Athens, Nationwide event, grinding it out and last week had off and worked on it a lot at home and came here feeling fresh and ready to go.
DOUG MILNE: What are your thoughts on the course?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I like the golf course. My first impression was that it's not hilly which is a good thing. But it's beautiful. Bunker, Greg did a great job with the bunkering out here and just really just playing with the land.
There's a couple holes where there's a bunker in the middle of the fairway but for the most part it's right in front of you and I like what Greg is doing with his design work. It's good. The greens are -- they're a bit undulating, which can make it tough in the winds with certain pins, so you really got to place your ball in the fairway the right distance to give yourself a shot, but it's good.
Greens are perfect, the golf course is in fantastic shape and yeah, I thought somewhere around even par for the week would be a good score. Everyday you can par would be a solid score. But I'm very encouraged with the round I shot.

Q. You played very successfully one-dimensionally for years. In the aftermath of the injuries, why wasn't it working? Why were you unable to get it back?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Well, it's a good question.
In '96 I changed my swing. At that point I had two left wrist surgeries, a torn tendon in the left wrist and a left shoulder surgery so my old teacher kind of figured that it's time to take this left.
I've always had a slashing golf swing and very steep, upright handsy, big divot and lot of flip at the end.
So he thought we need to do something to take this whole left side and just neutralize it. So we kind of went with a one plane, left-sided more -- whatever you want to name it, it was -- yeah, left-sided. It worked. Lot more rotation, upper body.
And for about six months I hit it really good but I hit -- it was just bullets. Then the wall I was leaning up against in my swing fell over and I was lost. I would go back and forth between that swing and my old swing because my body was feeling good. I'll go back to my old swing.
I was lost. I would go back to the old one. I had two sets of clubs. I had graphite shafts that worked with my old golf swing, the one I've had since I was born, and I have these steel shafts for the left-sided. And so I would literally when I'm packing to go to a tournament, which swing am I going to take this week? It's hard. You can't do it.
I had some weeks, a few scattered decent ball striking weeks over a two year period but as a whole, it was just not very good and so I really felt like I was spinning my wheels. That's why I needed to mix it up.
For about a year and a half is when I -- I had been kind of thinking about, pondering a change for about a year and a half and Mike Wilson, my old instructor is a dear friend, I've been working with him since 1991 when I got out of college. He's like a brother to me.
That was a hard move to leave him and -- I had some people, my wife and my chiropractor who said, "Make a change, go do something different."
So I'm very thankful for the people in my life that encouraged me to make a change which is hard, especially when you've had one guy.
So, that was the deal. And then I didn't ask him I want to be able to hit all the shots. He just put me in a position now I'm able to do it and I never knew how to do it before.
If you told me to hit a draw into a left to right wind I would say I couldn't do it intentionally. Now I'm able to. I'm excited. Still new and fresh so it doesn't come off perfectly every time but I'm -- I am encouraged that I'm able to hit some shots. There's pins that I never could go for before and now I can.
Yeah, I'm encouraged. As a 40 year old I feel like a new -- I got a new thing here in golf and it's exciting.

Q. Are all your health issues behind you now? Do you have any residual effects?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I have no pain in my hand. I don't have any cartilage left in my wrist. The second one, they rebuilt the whole joint. There's nothing left in the cartilage. There's a tendon that helps this (indicating). It's usually held in there but now there's nothing there. This tendon flops around.
So a doctor in Oklahoma City showed me how to tape it and it's basically a cord wrap and keeps the tendon from flopping around. Now it works and literally seven days after putting this tape on my wrist I haven't had pain. That was December 20th of '07.
If I hit balls without the thing, week later I'm in pain again. I keep it on but I don't have any -- wrist feels great, both shoulders feel great. The tendon I tore, I don't have any strength in it. It's probably 50 percent of it.
So I've lost a little bit in my left hand which at the top it's tougher to hold on to the club but we're doing okay. Physically, I feel good.

Q. What was it like for you today being among the first golfers out, first around on a new course in a tournament like this? Does it give you any sense of hey, I can just go for this, I don't have any kind of history to have to draw on?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: Well, I played here Tuesday and it looked -- it's good, it's a good golf course. I'd have to say it's one of the toughest courses we play. Week-in, week-out it would rival any other tough golf course especially with the different pins. I don't have a history here but I don't have anything to feed on.
I just -- I know in the wind you have one option is to go ahead and hit solid shots and I did that today. Seems like a lot of holes the wind was either right straight down or straight in or maybe kind of quartering, but there's really not a whole lot of straight across holes today which makes it even more difficult when it's really how long off the left or off the right. It seemed like it was either into touching left or into touching right which helps.
It helps the ball go straighter. Solid shots. I don't care what golf course it is. The greens are rolling perfectly. Golf is golf, fairways are fairways. If you're hitting it the right distance, usually good things happen.

Q. Were there any holes in particular today where it kind went in my mind, "I'm having a pretty good day here"?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: I was over-par early. I made some birdies and I know the stretch 1 through 4 pretty good holes and I played them I think 1-under and then I hit it a couple feet on a par 4, hit a great shot into the par 3 on the front-9, made about a 30-footer and at that point I was all right, I think I made a lot of birdies today, you know, which I've been doing all year but -- and, yeah.
You really don't think about it. My whole objective is to execute and when I pull my yardage book out to look at my yardage I'm on this shot. When I finish the hole, I pull the book out and I'm on that hole. Try not to think too much about where I'm at. It's never a good thing anyway.
Most of the guys out here who have been out here a long time realize adding them up on 15 doesn't help a whole lot. I did that in New Orleans one year when I was -- I had a 6-footer for eagle on 15 to go to 12-under for the day and I started going oh, 59 is coming. Consequently, I missed the putt and parred the last three holes and shot 61.
It never works. It's always good to execute one at a time. No matter what sport you're playing, you're a quarterback, pitcher, batter, you're only good as the shot you're hitting. That's all you got. So, yeah, it's golf. I played a good round. I knew I was playing well. I liked the finish today.

Q. Given the difficulty of the course, is this the best round you've played in years on the PGA Tour?
PAUL STANKOWSKI: This would rival one of the most solid rounds I've played in years. I guess a couple -- a driver left left, hit a driver off the deck on my 16th hole or 17th hole, the par 5. 8, I hit a driver off the deck and pulled it. I had two crummy me drives which just -- it's one of the new parts of my swing is actually turning. I didn't turn as good.
Yeah, it was a solid day. I can't think -- I don't know what I shot this year, if I shot any low numbers.
DOUG MILNE: 66 in Puerto Rico.
PAUL STANKOWSKI: You know, I think I shot lower -- good first around in San Francisco. It was the worse ball striking day I ever had on Tour and shot 5-under which is really weird.
This was a good day and this is really how I would love to draw them every round. I'm going to emphasize again, solid golf shots. They work. That's what I did today. So, yeah, it was one of the most solid days I've had in a long time.
DOUG MILNE: All right. Told you quick and easy. Thanks for your time.

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