A Chilean flag and a memory through golf

Francisco Soto had the Chilean flag around his neck in the misting rain, toting it from hole-to-hole at TPC Southwind Wherever Joaquin Niemann went, hoping his favorite golfer might notice him.

“He’s a huge fan,” Franciso Soto, Jr. said trailing from behind, elongating the word “huge” in a way only a son indulging a father’s obsession can. “He never misses the tournaments he plays. They’re always watching.”

The Memphis golf tournament can mean so many different things to different people, no matter how many different names and formats it takes on. It’s never more true than Thursday’s first round, when the Golfers who go lowest don’t usually hold up, the galleries are at their thinnest, and yet they’re often brimming with substance.

Take these two Soto men, and why they were in Memphis at this particular moment tracking Niemann, their countryman and South America’s best golfer these days.

Francisco Soto, front, and his son, Francisco Soto Jr., back, watch their favorite player Joaquin Niemann during the first-round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship on Thursday, Aug.  11, 2022, at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

Francisco Soto moved here from Santiago, Chile four months ago with his wife. She’s a nurse practitioner who was recently hired by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their plan, he said, is to be in Memphis forever. His son has been visiting for the past month, arriving with admittedly bittersweet emotions, getting a feel for where his father now lives.

So the first day of the first FedEx St. Jude Championship was also their last day together before Soto Jr. returned to Santiago for college.

It was a little slice of home.

MORE:FedEx St. Jude Championship: How to watch, live stream the PGA Tour event in Memphis

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