Robert Rock won’t forget this trip to the United States in a hurry. In a race against time and red tape, Rock barely made it to Congressional Country Club yesterday. Without ever laying eyes on the golf course, he went out and shot a 1-under-par 70 in the first round of the 111th US Open.
Rock played his way into his first US Open at a qualifier last month in his native England, and won on the European Tour for the first time at last week’s Italian Open. He ran into difficulties once he realized he was bound for the US. Because of a drunk-driving incident when he was a teenager, his visa application took longer, leaving him in danger of not reaching the US before the tournament started.
“There was no confusion, it was just a matter of waiting,’’ said Rock, whose major championship history prior to this includes just three starts in the British Open.
He didn’t know until Wednesday afternoon that he had been officially cleared. Then he caught a flight to Newark Wednesday evening, arriving at 11:30. He jumped in a “cab type thing’’ for an expensive ride to Washington, got to his hotel at 3:30 a.m., then came to the course before his 2:19 p.m. tee time.
From there, it was mainly a blur for the sleep-deprived, jet-lagged Brit.
“I couldn’t really picture the holes until we walked a hundred yards down the fairway and I could see what was going on,’’ Rock said. “I hit the ball pretty nicely.’’