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Firefighter completes historic first day of Masters

Brockton Fire Department firefighter Matt Parziale bagged two birdies and remained even with par through five holes in the first round at Augusta National


Matt Parziale, 30, bagged two birdies and remained even with par through five holes in the first round at Augusta National.


By Marc Larocque
The Enterprise

AUGUSTA, Ga. — History has been made by a firefighter from Brockton who qualified as an amateur to play in the Masters and took his first swing in the prestigious golf tournament Thursday morning.

Matt Parziale, 30, bagged two birdies and remained even with par through five holes in the first round at Augusta National. Parziale finished the day with three birdies and five pars, but slipped on the later holes, to end the first round on Thursday 9 shots over par.

The first day leader was Jordan Spieth at minus 6, while Tiger Woods, who golfed with Parziale in a practice round Wednesday, finished 1 over par.

Back home in Brockton, Thorny Lea Golf Club invited local firefighters, city officials and club members to gather in support of Parziale. They had drinks, socialized and watched clips of Parziale on ESPN on Thursday afternoon. Parziale is a member of Thorny Lea Golf Club, and has won several competitions held there. Among the Brockton golf fans, a group of women sat together at one table in the clubhouse, wearing T-shirts and baseball caps marked with the hashtag campaign "#MATTsters.”

“I think the city of Brockton is really, really proud,” said Megan Bearce, of Brockton, noting the city’s history of athletic greatness, including boxers Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. “We’re overwhelmed. We’re so proud of him. ... Everyone is just thrilled for Matt.”

Chris Barron, general manager of Thorny Lea, said some club members came by earlier during the day to track Parziale’s progress, with live streaming video and updates provided through the Masters website and the Golf Channel. Barron said Parziale became the story of the Masters this week, with golf fans and others rejoicing over a firefighter from the “blue-collar city” of Brockton.

“We’ve had a buzz here,” Barron said. “There’s been a lot of great exposure this week for Matt that we’re proud to be a part of.”

Rhonda Stein, of Easton, another Thorny Lea member wearing a "#MATTsters” shirt, said she likes Parziale’s personality and the way he approaches the game. Stein said Parziale practices hard at Thorny Lea, and his story of being a firefighter, who plays high-level golf, has won over the public.

“He’s such a nice kid,” Stein said. “He works hard, he’s a firefighter, and he comes out here and works on his golf game. He’s just an overall nice guy, so we came out to root for him. ... I think Matt appreciates it as well. You can see it. He carries himself well.”

Parziale began his play in the Masters at 8:52 a.m., with a 297-yard tee shot. Parziale then hit his second shot 136 yards, leaving the ball 34 yards to the pin. His third shot was 37 yards, leaving the ball 11 feet away from the pin. Parziale finished the first hole in five shots for a bogey.

Parziale did better on the second hole, making par in five shots. Parziale’s drive off the tee on the second hole went 321 yards onto the fairway. On his third shot, he pitched the ball 82 yards and left it eight feet to the pin. He then missed an eight-foot put by four inches. Parziale then tapped it in for par.

On the third hole, a par 4, Parziale started with a 309-yard drive that landed close to the rough to the left of the pin, before his second shot landed 18 yards to the pin. It took Parziale five shots to complete the hole and finish with a bogey.

Parziale bounced back with his first shot on the fourth hole, driving the ball 242 yards, leaving it just five feet to the pin. He then made a five-foot put for birdie.

Parziale began the fifth hole, a par 4, with a 281-yard drive to the center of the fairway, leaving the ball 167 yards away from the pin. Parziale then hit a 169-yard shot, leaving it six feet to the pin. Parziale ended the hole with a 6-foot put for birdie.

On the sixth hole, Parziale’s first shot was 168 yards, leaving the ball 32 yards to the pin. But Parziale ended up with a bogey on the hole. Then he got a double bogey on the seventh hole.

Parziale took five shots for par on the eighth hole, before collecting a bogey on both the ninth and 10th holes.

On “Amen Corner,” a term for the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Augusta, coined in 1958 by Brockton native and Golf Hall of Fame writer Herbert Warren Wind, Parziale shot for par, then picked up a double bogey and then shot for par again.

To qualify to play in the tournament as an amateur, Parziale won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in October last year. Parziale’s win at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Capital City Golf Club’s Crabapple Course also qualified him for the U.S. Open in June.

At the Masters, Parziale will have to be in the top 50 in the field of 87 golfers by the end of play on Friday to make the cut to play deep into the weekend.

On Wednesday, the Brockton Fire Department shared a tweet showing a picture with a rainbow over Thorny Lea Golf Club, hoping it portends well for Parziale’s performance at the Masters.

“A firefighter saw this today after the rainstorm, a rainbow that seems to end in the (Thorny Lea Golf Club) clubhouse,” the Fire Department wrote in the tweet. “Could that be a good sign?”

Parziale is paired with Mike Weir and Brendan Steele. Parziale and his group was scheduled to tee off today in Round 2 at 11:37 a.m.

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