By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- He started the week as a guy with visa problems.
He ended it as a bit of a rising star.
We're talking Englishman Robert Rock, who won the BMW Italian Open last Sunday, got a last-minute visa, flew to Newark, took a car service to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night and got here at 3:30 a.m. Thursday. A little more than 13 hours before his first-round tee time.
He stands to finish in the top 30 this week and people are already buzzing about his game and his tousled haircut.
If not for a third-round 76 . . . . well, it's golf and you have to count them all, but finishing at 1 over for the tournament with no practice round and only a rough idea of the course from watching an event on television . . . get where we're going?
Rock closed with a 68 and will head to Paris tonight for the Alstom Open de France in two weeks.
"I hit a lot of good shots.,'' said Rock, who closed with a 68 and will head to Paris tonight for the Saint Omer Open next week. "It was a pleasure playing with Lucas (Glover) today. That made it easier. 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."
And, he's as impressed with European Tour mate Rory McIlroy as everyone else.
"Yeah, I think Rory is showing what can be done around here,'' Rock said. "I'm not saying I played anywhere near that good, but I played some decent golf. If I would have learned a bit more about it, I would have maybe gone a bit more under.''
After his whirlwind trip, Rock was ready to slow down a bit.
"My caddie and I are going to have a beer now and chill out before our flight tonight,'' he said. "I've got a week off to do very little. There won't be much practice done, I don't think. I'll take it easy for at least a few days and then start up again because I've got a big tournament coming up the week after."