BETHESDA, Md. – England’s Robert Rock arrived at the U.S. Open less than 12 hours before his first tee shot, his delay caused by visa issues stemming from a drink driving incident when he was a teenager.
Rock shrugged off the jetlag to shoot a 1 under 70 in Thursday’s first round, good enough for a share 10th, despite playing a difficult course he had never seen before.
“I couldn’t really picture the holes,” he said, “until we walked a hundred yards down the fairway and I could see what was going on.”
Rock qualified for his first U.S. Open two weeks ago, but he said the drink driving charge from years ago complicated his efforts to get to the United States. It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that the approval came through and he got his passport back. He then took an 8 p.m. flight from England to New Jersey and, upon landing, hired a car for $1,000 to get him to Maryland, arriving at 3:30 a.m. local time.
Then there was one final important bit of business - seeking out Richie Ramsey, the player who would have taken Rock’s spot in the field if Rock hadn’t made it.
“I saw him just before I teed off and apologized for wasting his time, really,” Rock said. “I tried to keep him in the picture because I really didn’t think I was going to make it in time.”
Rock said he had no idea it would take so long to get a visa, even with embassy officials speeding up the process after hearing about his plight. In the meantime, he was also dealing with the excitement of winning the Italian Open on Sunday, his first victory on the European Tour.
With all that going on, there hasn’t been much time for sleep.
“I could do with some more,” he said, “if you don’t mind.”