The Washington Post

U.S. Open: Robert Rock gets his visa just in time

Given how well Robert Rock played on Thursday at the U.S. Open, he might want to reconsider how he prepares to play in future majors.

Most people wouldn’t fly from Europe to the United States the night before a tournament, drive most of the night to the event site, walk onto the first tee without having seen the course except on television and shoot a respectable 1-under-par 70.

His caddie “Gary [Tilston] did a good job guiding me around” the course, Rock said. “Couple of mistakes, just from me not being comfortable seeing where to go. I couldn’t picture the holes until we sort of walked 100 yards down the fairway and I could see what’s going on.”

Rock’s odyssey began on May 30 at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England where he was one of 11 qualifiers into the U.S. Open. The 34-year-old Englishman immediately applied for a visa. But because of a teenage driving-under-the-influence offense, his visa was delayed.

After winning the Italian Open on Sunday, Rock met with U.S. immigration authorities on Monday. He was granted a visa at 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

“They were really, really sympathetic,” Rock said. “I told them the time frame. They got it done for me. It was brilliant.”

By 8 p.m., Rock was on a flight out of the United Kingdom to Newark, N.J. From there, he rented a car for $1,000 that whisked him to Bethesda, arriving at 3:30 a.m. He stepped on the course for the first time at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Had Rock not been able to make it to the tournament in time, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, an alternate, would have taken his place. Rock met with Ramsay just before he teed off at Congressional Country Club.

“I apologized for wasting his time,” Rock said. “I tried to keep him in the picture because I really didn’t think I was going to make it in time so I figured he ought to have decent preparation.”

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.


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