With the Stanley Cup playoffs over, catching up on a few things I care about . . .
■ Don’t look now, but everybody’s favorite golfing firefighter (or firefighting golfer?) is still in the game. And just days after competing in his second straight US Open, he’s heading into a local amateur tournament alongside everybody’s favorite NFL analyst.
Might Matt Parziale get in a few Patriot digs at Tony Romo?
“He probably won’t want to talk about it, but I’ll talk about it all he wants,” Parziale said Tuesday, shortly after wrapping up his pro-am day in advance of the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in Providence. “The thing I really want to talk to him more about is how he is such a good play caller.”
Join the club, Matt.
But the subject here likely will be golf. Romo, the former Cowboys quarterback, is a frequent invitee to pro-ams and has made some PGA appearances, and Parziale, the Brockton firefighter/amateur golfer, made plenty of headlines in 2018 for competing at the Masters before earning co-low amateur honors at the US Open.
Parziale’s Open storybook had a different ending this year; he missed the cut last week at Pebble Beach, shooting 9 over across two rounds, after punching his ticket at the qualifying tournament in Purchase, N.Y.
A conversation this week with the 32-year-old revealed a man who is still loving every minute he gets to spend on the course.
Or on the slopes.
Or with his new wife.
Or in his new job.
In other words, Parziale remains a master multitasker.
Take last Wednesday, when he spent a few morning hours handling clients in his position with an international insurance group, played a practice round, and conducted a phone interview. It’s a schedule that pros like US Open champion Gary Woodland or runner-up Brooks Koepka wouldn’t have to keep. But Parziale wouldn’t have it any other way.
As he remains on leave from the Brockton Fire Department, he used much of this past year getting licensed to begin a new job with the insurance firm in April, one that allows a level of flexibility he couldn’t have before.
“I’m used to the juggling,” he said. “When you’re a golfer — it doesn’t matter, pro or amateur — you try to get the best score you can. The [pros] do stuff that I don’t do. Yeah, still busy, but things have started to slow down.”
Thank goodness. Remember, Parziale and his wife, Ali, changed their original wedding date to accommodate his appearance at last year’s US Amateur, which came after his April appearance at the Masters and his June spot in the US Open, all of which came courtesy of winning the US Mid-Am.
They eventually tied the knot Aug. 3, headed straight to the tournament, and got an early start on their honeymoon in Napa Valley when Matt didn’t play as well as he would have liked. A swing through Bora Bora and a winter spent skiing together (Ali is a former professional ski racer) made up for the previous winter, when Matt didn’t want anything to put his Masters appearance at risk.
The Augusta trip will be a lifelong memory, his dad Vic there as his caddie, his golf idol Tiger Woods there for a practice round.
Like the rest of us, Parziale watched in amazement as Woods roared back to win this year’s Masters.
“It was something I never thought I’d see again,” he said. “Brought back all the emotions, why I fought to be better at this game.”
■ Any doubts about what it takes to get through the NHL playoffs were crushed by the Bruins’ postseason wrapup press conferences, ones that read like an emergency-room intake board. Boston is no different than any other team in the NHL, with players hiding injuries at a rate unfathomable to us armchair athletes.
Of course we knew about Zdeno Chara’s fractured jaw, but the details were still jaw-dropping, with Chara playing while wires and plates held his facial bones together. The 42-year-old captain also played through a groin injury and needed clean-out surgery on his elbow.
Patrice Bergeron also played through a groin injury, Noel Acciari a broken sternum and a foot injury, Jake DeBrusk a concussion, David Pastrnak a thumb injury, and John Moore a broken humerus.
That doesn’t include Kevan Miller, who broke the same kneecap twice and missed the playoffs, or Chris Wagner, who needed surgery to fix the wrist he broke blocking a shot in the playoffs.
“It’s a testament to the courage of each and every one of them to push themselves,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
■ While soccer is in the spotlight with the Women’s World Cup going on in France, how’s this for the least surprising headline in a sport rife with corruption? Former UEFA president Michel Platini is being investigated over the still-unbelievable decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Reportedly taken into custody Tuesday by French police, Platini faces questions over his decision to vote for Qatar over the US, contrary to his previous stance. Qatar is in a region with little soccer history and is so hot in summer that the tournament has to be moved from June/July to November/December. But the oil-rich nation is pouring money into the game and the tournament.
■ Hank Haney isn’t funny. And his backtracking, save-face excuses aren’t believable. Haney, the golf swing coach, used his satellite radio show to make a joke out of the US Women’s Open, dismissing it out of hand as nothing he should have to even know about, never mind acknowledge, then digging himself deeper by sarcastically predicting that a Korean would win even if he couldn’t pick one by name.
In other words, he managed to be both sexist and xenophobic in one short exchange.
He apologized and took a suspension from Sirius, but after Jeongeun Lee6 won the tournament, he doubled down on his prediction, insisting he was actually the brilliant one. “I knew you’d win,” Haney tweeted at the golfer, adding, “Who’s the Great Predictor Now?”
But good look? None other than Haney’s former star pupil, Tiger Woods. Woods may have made some missteps in his personal relationships with women, but as a pro, he’s always been supportive. And the man who rarely takes a controversial stance let Haney have it.
“He deserved it,” Woods said of the criticism of Haney. “Just can’t look at life like that.”
■ Which way would you write the headline? Star NFL tight end Zach Ertz leaves Eagles camp to watch wife in World Cup? Or, Husband of USWNT star midfielder Julie Ertz arrives from Eagles camp to attend her game?
Verdict here? I love them both. What a great sports couple the Ertzes are.
■ Best two goals in group play in France came from Jamaica and Thailand, two countries that scored for the first time on the World Cup stage. They are in the tournament despite scant support from their governments, and the goals are huge signs of progress.
So kudos to former Florida star Havana Solaun, who scored for the Reggae Girlz, and to Kanjana Sungngoen, who scored for Thailand. Most moving reaction came on the Thai sideline, where program benefactor and general manager Nualphan Lamsam openly wept.