Firefighter Parziale hopes to sizzle at Augusta National

Matt Parziale of the United States secured a berth in the first major championship of the year with his victory in last year's US Mid-Amateur Championship

Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Firefighter Matt Parziale can tell you the job isn’t like it’s portrayed in the movies, but his life has taken a Hollywood turn with his arrival at Augusta National as a competitor in the Masters.

The 30-year-old American who works out of Station One in Brockton, Massachusetts, secured a berth in the first major championship of the year with his victory in last year’s US Mid-Amateur Championship.

It’s a foray into the highest level of the sport for someone who regained his amateur status after failing to establish himself in the lower rungs of the pro ranks.

“I played all the mini-tours you can possibly imagine, Monday qualifiers. And I enjoyed it,” Parziale said. “I was playing well. I didn’t really have many times where I thought I was playing that bad. But I wasn’t making any money.”

So he followed in his firefighting father’s footsteps, thinking the schedule would still allow him to play competitive golf.

It does, to some extent. After winning the Mid-Amateur — punching his ticket to both the Masters and the US Open — he hurried home to work a shift.

“We missed our first flight and got pushed back … that got delayed. Got home around 2:00 (am). Then I was at work at 7.”

He is tight-lipped about the dangers of that work, although he did take a leave of absence to prepare for the Masters without risk of injury.

“You have stuff flying everywhere, people swinging tools everywhere,” he said of fighting a house fire. “A lot of things can happen. You can’t see a thing, so might as well close your eyes.

“It’s pitch black. It’s not like the movies.”

In Augusta, however, he’s red carpet material.

“I had to do a few autographs yesterday for the first time in my life,” he said. “That was kind of cool.”

Also cool, a note of congratulation after his Mid-Amateur victory from Tiger Woods.

“That was incredible to receive, just because I grew up watching him,” Parziale said. “I mean, I played competitive golf because I was able to watch him growing up.”

He’s since had a chance to chat with Woods at Medalist Golf Club in Florida, but he wasn’t sure his hopes of a practice round with Woods this week would pan out.

“He’s in demand, so we’ll see if that happens,” Parziale said.