BROCKTON (CBS) – A Brockton firefighter is trading in his axe this week for a set of golf clubs and the luscious green fairways of Augusta National. Matt Parziale found out he landed an invitation this past Christmas after he won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in the fall. Now he’s set to tee off on Thursday with the likes of Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods.
His gear still hangs in the Brockton firehouse even as he tackles golf’s most prestigious tournament and his boss marvels.
“To know somebody this well and to see him playing at Augusta National in the Masters is just incredible,” said Brockton Fire Chief Michael Williams.
Indeed, until his recent leave of absence, Parziale was fighting fires aboard one of the busiest ladder trucks in the country.
“Everyone thinks just because I’m a firefighter it’s easy to play golf,” Parziale said. “No, I’ve been working at golf a really long time.”
Matt essentially followed his dad into firefighting, but that was long after his father, grandfather and a boyhood idol named Tiger Woods got him hooked on golf.
Matt made an unsuccessful run at the pros just after college. But his inner fire for the sport kept burning at Brockton’s Thorny Lea Golf Club where Matt has played since he was a kid.
“He’s got a great work ethic, just keeping it up, trying to pursue his dream,” co-worker Tyler Palie said.
And in October — at age 30 — Matt’s winning scorecard at the Mid-Amateur Championship down south punched his ticket to dreamland.
“And this is what I live to do, I just enjoy it so much, preparing for the event and then also competing,” Parziale said.
He’ll be among a handful of amateurs trying to make a name for themselves against the biggest names in golf.
“I’ve known the family my whole career here in the fire department and you just couldn’t ask for a better person,” Chief Williams said. “That’s what makes it fun.”
Matt’s now retired firefighter dad is serving as his caddie.
“He’s doing well, he’s still standing which is good,” Parziale said.
Matt hopes he’s still standing after Friday’s cut. But even if he’s not, it won’t put out the flame.
“I’m very fortunate to do the two things I love,” he said.