Matt Parziale (USGA photo)
A year and a half ago, not many outside of New England knew about the firefighter-golfer from Brockton, Massachusetts. But a win in the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur put Matt Parziale
on the national map, and his performance in 2018 has made him the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Player of the Year.
The AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Player of the Year is awarded based on a point system earned through performance in major amateur events throughout the course of the year.
Related: AmateurGolf.com Feature Interview: Matt Parziale
Like last year's Player of the Year Stewart Hagestad
, Parziale made the most of the opportunities that opened up to him by virtue of winning his first USGA event.
Parziale received the traditional Masters invitation
as the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion.
But this year, for the first time
, the title came with a second major invitation -- the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
Final Mid-Amateur Ranking, 2018
Normally he would put the clubs away over the winter and early spring, but with two majors for which to prepare, Parziale changed his playing schedule.
He represented the U.S. (along with Scott Harvey) at the South American Amateur in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he finished 7th. Returning stateside, he played at the Jones Cup in Georgia and then won the International Four-Ball
in Florida with partner Herbie Aikens.
Parziale also finished 7th in the Gasparilla Invitational and 17th at the Azalea Invitational as he tuned his game up for the Masters.
Though he did not make the cut at Augusta National, Parziale enjoyed a dream week
that included playing a practice round with his idol, Tiger Woods.
After the Masters, Parziale finished 14th in the Terra Cotta Invitational and was a part of the winning U.S. Concesson Cup team
. From there it was a runner-up finish at the prestigious Coleman Invitational at Seminole Golf Club in Florida, followed by a quarterfinal finish at the Walter Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club in New York.
He arrived at Shinnecock Hills in good form and finely tuned with a full schedule of tournaments under his belt, and what followed was the highlight of his year.
Parziale not only became the first mid-amateur in 15 years
to make the cut in the U.S. Open, but he earned low amateur honors
with a T48 finish.
Parziale continued his good play into the summer, with top-15 finishes at the Porter Cup and Northeast Amateur, and a runner-up finish at the Francis Ouimet Memorial.
In the fall, Parziale's attempted defense of his U.S. Mid-Amateur title was cut short with a surprise loss in the first round of match play. But he finished the year strong, with a quarterfinal finish in the Crump Cup at Pine Valley and a sixth-place finish at the Crane Cup in Florida.
He finishes 2018 #1 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Rankings
, narrowly ahead of Kevin O'Connell (Cary, N.C.), who succeeded him as U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. Garrett Rank of Canada, Allen John of Germany, Hagestad, and Euan McIntosh of Scotland rounded out the top five in the standings.