SOUTHHAMPTON, N.Y. – Since winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur last October Matt Parziale’s amateur career has been a magical mystery tour that has given him a royal welcome at Augusta National Golf Club, the sports holy grail, and now, this week, at Shinnecock Hills, site of the 118 th United States Open.
Who would have thought that one small win in an amateur golf tournament could turn into one giant leap to play competitively with superstars of the game like like, Tiger, Rory and Freddie?
Who would have thought that one small win in an amateur tournament, designed for players over age 25, would catapult the 31-year old fireman from the “City of Champions” – Brockton, Massachusetts – into a media sensation?
When your hear the expression ‘living the dream’ think Matt Parziale. He is enjoying the time of his life and strong contender for feel-good story of the year, since everyone likes a fireman, especially one that maintains a plus-4 handicap and one that tees it up with Tiger and Rory?
Monday of tournament week Parziale met the international golf media – mostly a bunch of tightwad, humorless, wrinkled, underpaid and overweight characters – whose only talent is punching out nouns and adjectives that heap praise on how great golf is because the USGA or some other self-proclaimed golf authority said so.
For a guy that has never been there before, Parziale sat calmly, looking polished and collected in his 12-minute interview answering every question tossed his way with a polite nod and smile. He looked like he thoroughly enjoyed the starring role and told the chumps in the audience he has loved every minute of it, even if he misses the cut, which he did in the Masters shooting 81-79.
“This whole year is going faster than I ever thought it would go,” Parziale said from the spacious USGA media center podium, scheduled with Phil Mickelson on-deck. “My Masters experience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and this week, being my second major, will be just as special. I didn’t do anything different to get ready for the Masters, I did what I normally do, and it hasn’t changed now. Hopefully I can play better at Shinnecock.”
Parziale will begin the next chapter of his whirlwind year with a tee time at 6:56 a.m. with Trey Mullinax and Jason Scrivener. He will be followed by a contingent of about 200 fans from his home course Thorny Lea Golf Club and well-wishers from throughout the Bay State. Parziale’s Friday tee time is 12:41.
In July, Parziale will defend his Mass. Amateur and Ouimet titles with an in-between trip to Western New York for the Porter Cup. He will play in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Aug. 13 -19. Vic Parziale is not only playing the role of father this week, he has been caddying for Matt for the past four years on every major win and near-win, and also enjoying the ride.
Oh, one other life-changing event is scheduled in about six weeks: his wedding on Aug. 3 and a honeymoon to Bora Bora, a trip to be made without golf clubs.
At a tournament known for its difficulty and drama, Parziale is a longshot to make the cut, but then again in 1913 at The Country Club in Brookline so was amateur Francis Ouimet.
What’s certain this week is the crew on Ladder Company 1 at the Brockton Firehouse on Pleasant Street is proud of their compatriot, and will be tuned in hoping for a happy ending lasting four days, not two!
For more info: www.usga.com