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July 19 2013

6:15 PM

Stankowski rides putter into contention

Stankowski needed just 25 putts in his second round Friday in Mississippi. (Cox/Getty Images)

By Rusty Hampton, Special to PGATOUR.COM

MADISON, Miss. -- “Hey Stank,” asked a caddie, grinning: “You still know how to do interviews?”

“Nah,” said Paul Stankowski, telling what turned out to be a lie.

Stankowski, a 43-year-old PGA TOUR veteran who did a stint in TV broadcasting in 2005 during one of his several injury-related absences, was refreshingly candid on a scorching hot Friday afternoon at Annandale Golf Club.

After shooting a 4-under 68 to grab a share of the early second-round lead in the Sanderson Farms Championship at 10 under, Stankowski tried to explain why he’s been mostly absent from leaderboards -- and interviews -- over the last decade.

It has a little something to do with the flat stick.

“I watch a lot of golf and everybody who plays well makes putts and I haven’t really made any putts -- for 10 years,” cracked Stankowski. “So it’s kind of nice to make some putts and join the party. That was good.”

Stankowski drained a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 18 to cap his first-round 66 and had took 25 putts overall for the round. He took 30 putts in the second round. He played 30 holes on a brutally hot Friday, finishing his rain-delayed first round and then getting in 18 more holes before play was stopped because of lightning.

First-round leader Daniel Summerhays (63) had just teed off when the horn sounded at 3:59 p.m. (CDT), stopping play. Stankowski is tied at the moment at 10 under with Vaughn Taylor (67-67) and Fabian Gomez (70-64), who made a bomb of his own (from 52 feet) for eagle on the par-5 18th.

Stankowski won twice on TOUR in the 1990s but lost his full-time status several years ago. He’s been playing the Web.com Tour this year, making just three of eight cuts. This is his first PGA TOUR event of the year.

“I’m one-for-one in cuts made this year, so that’s good,” said Stankowski, smiling.

Asked if he was surprised by the way he played, Stankowski quit smiling, paused, then said: “I know it’s in me. We’re halfway home and anything can happen.”

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