October is always a busy sports month in New England. High School and college sports are well underway. This year the Red Sox were in the playoffs again and shortly after elimination they dismissed their manager, John Farrell. The Bruins opened another season and the Celtics lost Gordon Hayward less than six minutes into his first game. And of course the Patriots had begun defense of their Super Bowl title. While all of this was transpiring, a 30-year-old golfer by the name of Matt Parziale from Brockton won the United States Mid-Amateur (Amateur Golfers aged 25-40) Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. Matt was in a field of 264 participants and his world amateur ranking was #247. The Mid-Amateur is a grueling event. It runs from Saturday through the following Friday. If you make it all the way you play eight rounds, which is as taxing on the body as it is on the mind. No teammates, no time-outs, no substitutions, just you and your caddie, who happens to be his father, Vic. Matt made it to the quarterfinals where it appeared his dream would end. He was five holes down with eight to play when momentum spun and he roared back to win on the 20th hole - which is not at all unlike the Patriots Super Bowl comeback against Atlanta. Matt won his semifinal match and made it to Friday's 36 hole championship. On Friday morning Matt shot a sizzling 63! 63 after playing for seven straight days and grinding through every hole of every match. Matt closed out his opponent on the 30th hole after firing 10 birdies on the day. Matt Parziale had pulled off the impossible - he had won the United States Mid-Amateur Championship. The story gets better. Matt isn't your financially comfortable, I can take off all the time I want, golfer.
Matt Parziale has a full time job, golf is his hobby and passion. Matt is a member of the Brockton Fire Department and by winning the Mid Am title, Matt automatically qualifies to play in next year’s Masters AND the US Open at Shinnecock Hills. His dad, and caddie Vic, is also a member of the Brockton Fire Department - matter of fact they both work in the same firehouse. 2018 should be some kind of year for Matt - in addition to playing in the Masters and US Open, Matt and his fiance, Ali, are scheduled to be married in August - the same month as the US Amateur, for which Matt also qualified. So after winning the title on Friday there was a little celebration. Traffic in Atlanta was so bad the family missed their original flight out of Atlanta - they made it back to Boston at 2AM.... and 5 hours later?
Matt was back on the job at the firehouse, Ladder One, on Pleasant Street in Brockton. "It’s great. I love my career,” said Parziale. “We’re a very busy station. It allows me to do this (play competitive golf) time-off wise. It’s a great group of guys, too." His co-workers will make sure his head still fits inside his helmet but he has pulled off one of the great upsets and accomplishments of the year.
Matt caught the competitive spirit at a young age playing hockey. Matt skated at Asiaf Arena in Brockton from mites all the way through midgets. Maybe that’s where he developed his flawless golf swing but it’s also further proof that playing more than one sport improves your athletic ability as well as mental toughness. From his youth hockey days to a rare invitation to the Masters, this Brockton native has an opportunity some golfers never see in their lifetime. Most PGA tour professionals will have a full career and never get an invite to the Masters.
Dreams do come true - but they usually are the residue of hard work and mental toughness. Well done Matt. 2017 has been a very good year. 2018 promises to be even more rewarding!