Robert Rock, 34, had never played in a U.S. Open until this year, and thanks to the quagmire that often comes with international travel, he almost didn’t play in this one.
A drinking and driving incident as a teenager meant the Englishman would need a visa as well as a passport to travel to the States, and since he only qualified for the U.S. Open two weeks earlier, he didn’t have a lot of time to pull it all together.
“That’s just what you have to do if that’s on your history,” Rock said. “I didn’t know I was coming until I qualified two weeks ago. Then I’ve got to start doing the process, which I didn’t realize was going to take as long.”
Rock’s journey took him from England to D.C. by way of Newark, N.J., as he was unable to get a direct flight, followed by a four-hour car trip to Washington. Rock arrived at 3:30 a.m. and barely managed a few hours of shut-eye before a 2 p.m. Thursday tee time.
No practice time, little sleep, and a course he had never seen, much less played on.
“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.
He responded by shooting a 1-under par 70. In Friday’s round, Rock continued his solid performance with a par 71, easily making the cut.
It wasn’t until Saturday’s round when Rock finally hit a wall of sorts, after excitement and adrenaline finally gave way to jet lag and sleep deprivation. Rock shot a 76 in a round that included four bogeys and two double bogeys.
His final round Sunday was his best of the tournament, featuring only two bogeys. He had four birdies and an eagle to finish at 3-under 68 and finish at 1-over for the tournament.
“Well, [Saturday] was disappointing, but I played very nicely today, 3-under and maybe could have been a couple better today, but 3-under is a good score on that course. I hit a lot of good shots,” Rock said.
“I’m reasonably happy overall. I’m only going to finish 30th, which is not what you want when you enter a tournament, and I had better hopes after overcoming the hardest part, which was the first round. I’m disappointed because I thought I’d play better golf, but not knowing enough about the place just cost me.”
Next up for Rock is a flight back across the Atlantic, back to Europe and an upcoming tournament in Paris.
“I hope I go there [Paris] playing like I am right now,” he said. “That will be a great tournament for contending, so I can’t ease off too much because I want to keep the game the way it is.”
But before Paris, Rock plans to take a little well-earned time off.
“It’s going to slow down right now, I think,” he said. “I’ve got a week off to do very little. There won’t be much practice done, I don’t think. My caddie and I are going to have a beer now and chill out before our flight tonight.”