SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Twenty amateurs began the week at Shinnecock Hills, the most in a U.S. Open since 1962, when the same number competed at Oakmont Country Club.
By Sunday afternoon, just three had completed 72 holes, with Matt Parziale and Luis Gagne sharing low-amateur honors at 16 over.
Parziale, the 31-year-old reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a firefighter off the golf course, was consistent all week, shooting 74-73-74-75 to earn his T-48 finish.
“This is what I put all of the work in for,” Parziale said. “Can’t guarantee it’s going to happen, but this is why I’ve done what I’ve done my entire life.”
As a kid, Parziale aspired to be a pro golfer. But after turning pro out of Southeastern College in 2009, he needed only three years to discover that he didn’t enjoy grinding it out on the mini-tours and not having any money.
He decided instead to follow in the footsteps of his father, Vic, who caddied for his son this week, and become a firefighter.
Even with Sunday’s finish at Shinnecock Hills, Parziale isn’t tempted.
“I’m not going to turn pro,” he said. “I’ve done that before. If they want to give me a Tour card, I’ll go play, but I’m not going to go back to playing mini-tours.”
Gagne, a 20-year-old rising senior at LSU, made headlines when he advanced out of U.S. Open local qualifying via a coin flip, then proved his worth by medaling at the Jupiter, Fla., sectional.
In his first major – and official PGA Tour event – Gagne, like Parziale, was steady. He shot 73-74-75-74.
“I just learned a lot,” Gagne said. “One thing is knowing that, you know, I can play with these guys. I still have a lot of work to do to be able to be out here. Knowing that I’m working on the right things and my skill level’s right with these guys, it gives me a lot of confidence.”
Will Grimmer, a rising senior at Ohio State, finished 66th at 23 over. It was his second U.S. Open start after missing the cut in 2014 at Pinehurst.
Parziale and Gagne have busy summers ahead of them. Gagne plans to play the Northeast Amateur next week in Rumford, R.I., before traveling to Paris for the Palmer Cup. He’ll also tee it up in the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur. Parziale is playing the U.S. Amateur and then defending his U.S. Mid-Amateur title this summer.
Before those two starts, however, Parziale has bigger plans. He is set to marry fiancé Alison Hubbard a couple of weeks before he heads to Pebble Beach.
What an August it will be for the firefighter. Gwk