For England’s Robert Rock, the winner of last week’s Italian Open, getting to Congressional for the US Open turned out to be a major hassle. While most players head to the majors in the expectation of healthy remuneration for their best efforts, Rock ended up paying nearly $24,000 (a figure he wasn’t interested in confirming) for the pleasure of teeing it up on Thursday afternoon.Since qualifying for the US Open a fortnight ago, Rock had been struggling to secure a working Visa for the United States. Slowed by a DUI he received as a student at Georgia State, his application process was only completed on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm, meaning he arrived in Washington at around 3:30 the following morning.
“They (Embassy officials) they were really, really sympathetic. I told them that the time frame on the Monday interview and they said it will be difficult, but we’ll try our best to do it and they got it done for us, so it was brilliant.”
With little sleep and no practice beyond watching some of the early coverage, Rock headed out to tackle what will likely be the year’s most penal setup. The result was a one-under-par 70 and a tie for tenth place, a score nearly inexplicable in light of his preparation.
“I’m playing okay at the moment. (Caddie) Gary (Tilston) did a good job, guided me around, got a couple of mistakes, just from me not being comfortable, seeing where to go. I couldn’t really picture the holes until we walked a hundred yards down the fairway and I could see what was going on.
“I hit the ball pretty nicely. It helped that it was a bit softer, I think. I could play similar golf to last week, and hit some decent iron shots. It was all right.”
I just hope Rock makes his $24,000 back.