x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Steady Robert Rock shows he can roll with the punches

Robert Rock overcame visa problems, paid a driver US$1,000 to take him from New Jersey to Maryland, and came up with a stellar show at Congressional.

Amid the understandable hullabaloo surrounding the actual winner, there was another new hero who emerged at Congressional.

England's Robert Rock was known as a rather steady, if a bit unspectacular player, until he won the Italian Open 10 days ago with some flair.

It was great preparation for his first US Open, a tournament he qualified for back in May. But there was a problem

Rock, 34, was convicted of drink driving as a younger man while a college student in the US and that caused massive problems in him obtaining a visa.

Even as late as last Tuesday night, it looked as if he wouldn't make it beyond customs if he had decided to board a plane.

However, the authorities eventually relented, a visa was granted, and he arrived in the US on Thursday morning, the first day of the Open.

So with no sleep and no practice round, plus he spent US$1,000 (Dh3,672) on a driver just to get him from New Jersey to Maryland on time, Rock shot a superb one-under 70, which he then followed up with a 71 to take him into the top 10 at the halfway stage.

It all caught up with him on Saturday when he carded a 76, but his response on the final day was excellent when he got around in three-under 68.

To play so well in what is regarded as golf's toughest major after all he went through to get on the first tee says much for Rock, who has still not qualified for the British Open. At least he won't need a visa for that one.