Stankowski ready to ditch the journeyman role

Paul Stankowski (file photo)

Paul Stankowski (file photo)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – “Orlando bound … second alternate. Hoping a few of the senior tour guys in the field decide to go get their PSA checked or something like that” @PaulStankowski, Nov. 8

Beneath the fine layer of humor are the words of a desperate man. Such is life when your only ticket to the big tour is past-champion status. Stankowski enters the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at No. 142 on the money list, wishing he can vault into the top 125 for full exempt status in 2011, hoping he can hang on to limited status in the Nos. 126-150 category, and praying he wouldn’t be left standing on the sidelines when the tournament begins on Thursday.

Stankowski got in on Tuesday and followed up with this tweet: “I’ve got a job for the week! Thankful for the opportunity to play in the final event of the season. Top 125 is reachable.”

Stankowski, 40, finds himself on the outside looking in when it comes to full-time Tour status. Perhaps no one embodies what is at stake this week quite like Stankowski among those trying to secure playing privileges next year at the final Tour event of the season.

“You have no idea, but I’ll let you know,” Stankowski told me after completing his final round last month at the McGladrey Classic. “I don’t know when I’m playing. I’m second alternate (for the Frys.Com Open). I have a 6:30 p.m. flight in Jacksonville through Dallas to San Jose. I get in at 10:30 p.m. I have an 8:40 a.m. tee time at a golf course I haven’t played since 1991 for a four-spot in Monday Qualifying (Note: he got in and earned $63,000 for finishing T-18).

“I have two kids who never know when daddy is coming home. I can’t plan a schedule. I was supposed to go to the Texas Rangers playoff game last night but then I got a sponsor invite I couldn’t turn down. My wife had to take my son. My entire life is up in the air. It’s not easy mentally.”

That’s one of several wild scenarios Stankowski has endured. In April, there was a seven-hour, five-state trip between two tours after beginning the week as a long-shot alternate into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Stankowski took the red eye from San Francisco home to Dallas, spent Monday doing laundry and packing, then flew to Tallahassee, Fla., and drove to Valdosta on Tuesday for the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic. Got all that? When he woke up the next morning, Stankowski had a voicemail message informing him he was in the field in New Orleans. Two pit stops and 467 miles later, Stankowski arrived in the Big Easy. Chalk it up as just another day in the itinerant life of a journeyman pro.

Said Stankowski: “I’m that guy on the other side of the fence peeking over and saying, ‘Pick me. I want to play.’ ”

He’s playing this week. Stankowski has one last chance to make sure 2011 isn’t spent bouncing between tours in purgatory again. Now it’s all up to him. 

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