Visa issues put Rock in a hard place for Open

Robert Rock of England in action during the final round of BMW Italian Open at Royal Park I Roveri on June 12, 2011 in Turin, Italy.

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BETHESDA, Md. - Uncle Sam was clearly not impressed with Robert Rock’s win at the BMW Italian Open. In fact until 4 a.m. (U.K. time), Rock was unsure if he was going to be able to make the trip to the U.S. Open.

But when he got to Congressional Country Club, he played the Blue course like a member, shooting a 1-under 70 and putting himself in the thick of the U.S. Open.

“Gary (Tilston, his caddie) did a good job, guided me around. Got a couple of mistakes, just from me not being comfortable, seeing where to go,” Rock said after his round. “I couldn't really picture the holes until we walked a hundred yards down the fairway and I could see what was going on.”

So Rock played nicely, but how did it get to this point?

Rock needed a visa because of a drinking incident when he was an 18-year-old student at Georgia State.

Rock maintains that the time it took to get a visa was not out of the ordinary and that the process started when he was interviewed in Italy on Monday.

“It wasn't a problem; that's just what you have to do if that's on your history,” Rock said of getting a visa. “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. “

On Wednesday, Rock received his passport with the visa attached and took an 8 a.m. flight from the U.K. to Newark, N.J., then grabbed a pre-arranged cab and arrived at his hotel at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, 10 hours and 41 minutes before his 2:19 p.m. tee time.

“It wasn’t cheap,” Rock said of the $1,000 cab ride.

When asked about the expediting fee that was reported to have cost $24,000, Rock dismissed that as a fabrication. But when asked about the actual cost, Rock said it was not anyone's business.

For the record, Rock won $362,200 in Italy last week, so he seems well positioned to afford whatever it cost to get to the Open.

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