What We Learned: Nice guys don't always finish last


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on the marvel that was Merion, Justin Rose's first major championship and all things U.S. Open.

Nice guys don't always finish last. In fact, you can be a good dude and win majors. While Tiger Woods was in the middle of his major dominance I always thought you needed to be singularly focused and insular like him in order to win the game's biggest prizes. I thought you only needed to care about yourself and not give much of anything to anyone outside your immediate circle of family and friends to be successful on the course. Turns out, that's not true. You can be a well-balanced person and win majors, Adam Scott and Justin Rose are living proof. Let's say a toast for the good guys. – Jay Coffin

If I am Jason Day or Hunter Mahan or Jason Dufner or Luke Donald or Steve Stricker or Rickie Fowler – all of whom contended at the U.S. Open on Sunday, all of whom rank somewhere not too far down the Best Player To Have Never Won A Major list – I take the disappointment of losing with a huge helping of optimism after seeing one of my own get his turn in the spotlight. With Justin Rose’s breakthrough into the world of major championship winners, the turnstile keeps letting first-timers through. Think about it: From Adam Scott to Webb Simpson to Rory McIlroy to Bubba Watson to Graeme McDowell to Martin Kaymer, for the game’s elite players, winning a major feels less a matter of if than when. This, of course, contradicts life as we knew it for the dozen years from 1997-2008, when major championship golf appeared to be Tiger Woods against the world – and it often wasn’t a fair fight for the world. Now, though, players can patiently wait for their push through that turnstile. The least equitable game in the world is giving everyone a chance at immortality. – Jason Sobel

That was a fun experiment, bringing the year’s second major to venerable Merion, but it might be another 32 years – if not longer – before it hosts another Big One. For four days we watched PGA Tour players tackle the most difficult sub-7,000-yard course in the country. The problem was, it was tricked up by the USGA. The hole locations were cut in funky spots. The rough was so long, it made Rory McIlroy’s hair seem like a buzz cut. A few of the fairway lines were moved. The world’s best players were hitting drivers on par 3s – and coming up short. All to protect par. That’s not to mention the logistical nightmares, the makeshift clubhouses, the long shuttle rides from the range, the 15,000 fans who were unable to watch a major championship in their backyard. It was a fun experiment in 2013. But it could be a while before Merion cracks the Open lineup again.– Ryan Lavner

That Merion, some three decades removed from the U.S. Open rotation, is still the championship test it was when Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam and Ben Hogan carved that 1-iron into the history books. Fears that the East Course, at just under 7,000 yards, had been left behind by technology were greatly exaggerated, as evidenced by this week’s scoring average – 4 ½ strokes over par – and Justin Rose’s 1-over-par winning total. Even Tiger Woods, who finished a distant 13 strokes back, sang Merion’s praises after weekend rounds of 76-74: “Certainly golf course-wise, it could definitely host another major championship.” Whether the Open returns to the Philly gem is up to the USGA and logistic reality, but it should. – Rex Hoggard

Merion Golf Club should play as large a role in golf's future as it has its past. This old course is wonderfully quirky. Every hole stands apart from the others, like 18 colorful siblings begging to be your favorite. Merion is a treasure, a classic American creation that deserves the chance to continue to shape the future of the game. This course proved it stands the test of time. – Randall Mell