The fields at next year’s Masters and U.S. Open will include the world’s finest golfers – among them a firefighter from gritty Brockton, Mass.
By winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur last Friday in Atlanta, Matt Parziale earned a likely Masters invitation and a U.S. Open exemption, the latter given for the first time to the Mid-Am champion. Parziale, 30, defeated wedding caterer Josh Nichols, 8 and 6, in the final at Capital City Club to book tee times at Augusta National and Shinnecock Hills next April and June, respectively.
Parziale grew up in Brockton – the “City of Champions” that also produced boxing greats Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler – and learned the game from his firefighter father, Vic, who caddied for Matt in Atlanta. After playing at Florida’s Southeastern University, Parziale competed professionally for three years but never advanced past the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School. After failing in his third try, Parziale took his firefighter test and applied for amateur reinstatement.
For the past four years, Parziale has been one of New England’s top amateurs, even though he occasionally plays tournament rounds after an all-night shift at the firehouse. Trading pro golf’s climb for a fireman’s ladder, he has reached the game’s heights.
In Malaysia, Pat Perez won the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic. The 41-year-old veteran, who at this time last year was ranked outside the top 300 in the world while coming off shoulder surgery, was projected to move into the top 20 with the victory. Tyrrell Hatton won the Italian Open, his second consecutive European Tour victory, and Jin Young Ko won her first LPGA title, the KEB Hana Bank Championship, in her South Korean homeland.