DADE CITY, Fla. — Cristobal Del Solar left his native Chile and ended up at Florida State University because of an old friend.
The 20-year-old, who is playing alongside Joaquin Lolas at the USF Invitational at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Florida, has been friends with him since he was nine.
“The main reason [I’m at FSU] was Joaquin,” Del Solar said after firing his second straight 68 (-4) on Day 2. “He’s on the team. He’s from Peru and … he told me it was a really good school. [Lolas told] me to get in contact with the coaches. I really liked them, I went for a visit, and I loved it.”
But he initially left his native Chile for one reason only: to continue his golf career.
Coming from a country that isn’t notorious for golf, Del Solar knew he had to leave to make his dream of playing collegiate golf a reality.
“Golf in Chile is not very big,” the redshirt freshman said. “I wanted to get out because it is a little bit easier to find schools if I am here [in the United States].”
Del Solar certainly found schools as he received offers from seven universities before deciding on Florida State.
He left Chile in 2010 to attend the David Leadbetter Golf Academy at IMG in Bradenton, Fla., because “it made it a little easier to find schools.”
Winning the 2012 World Amateur qualifier also helped. Del Solar won the event in 2012 before heading to Antalya, Turkey, in October of that year to represent Chile and play in the World Amateur, where he finished tied for 70 in the individual event, while coming in tied for 27 in the team event.
While golf is not a big sport in Chile, golf genes run in the family. His cousin, Nicole Perrot, won once on the LPGA tour and twice on the Symetra Tour.
However, golf wasn’t always Del Solar’s first choice. Growing up, he said he was a very good soccer, rugby and tennis player, but at the age of 13 he picked golf after an ultimatum from his golf coach.
“I was playing rugby and golf at the same time and my golf coach was like, ‘You need to pick either golf or rugby because it doesn’t go well together,’” he said. “So I picked golf and stopped playing rugby.”
Having been away from home for nearly four years, Del Solar says that upon reflection leaving home wasn’t difficult.
“It actually wasn’t that hard now that I look back at it,” he said. “The thing I hated was that I was in school for 12 hours a day. I didn’t have time to play golf. I didn’t really like it. I really enjoy it here now.”