What We Learned: Rose coming into bloom


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, we examine who's the best player in the world right now, a development in the rookie of the year race and an upcoming change in the relationship between the U.S. and European PGA tours.

Justin Rose is on the verge of very big things. He recently followed the conclusion of the FedEx Cup playoffs by playing some of his best golf of the season, which would often be considered bad timing, but in this instance clinched a few victories of widely varying degrees. His clutch putting down the stretch helped Europe secure the Ryder Cup and more torrid play in Turkey netted a monster paycheck. Neither performance earned Official World Golf Ranking points, though at No. 5 already, Rose doesn’t have very far to climb to reach the top. That may be asking a little much, but don’t be surprised if the 15-year pro – can you even believe that? – is ranked even higher one year from now. Consider these last few weeks an act of foreshadowing for the 2013 campaign. Jason Sobel

At this very moment – and perhaps this moment alone – the best player in the world is not Rory McIlroy, who got skunked in three matches in Turkey and seemed content to spend his afternoons by the resort pool with his tennis-star girlfriend. (Smart kid.)

No, at this very moment, the best player in the world is Justin Rose, and not just because he edged Lee Westwood in the championship match of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals. Consider the Englishman’s past four weeks. He was solo second at the Tour Championship, raking in an extra $1.6 million for his efforts. A few days later, at the Ryder Cup, he was one of only two players who went all five sessions, and he compiled a 3-2 record, including his stunning reversal in Sunday singles that may have been the most critical point in Europe’s historic comeback. 

Then the world No. 5 came to Turkey, for the meaningless cash-grab exhibition in which players wore shorts and even last place earned $300,000. That Rose prevailed over four days there wasn’t all that surprising. At this very moment, he’s playing the best golf of anyone in the world. – Ryan Lavner

The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year race is not over. John Huh seemed to have the hardware wrapped up, but Jonas Blixt’s victory at the Frys.com Open, which came on the heels of his third-place showing last week in Las Vegas, has suddenly opened up the race for top newcomer. Huh has a victory and four top-10 finishes, while Blixt has a win and five top 10s and is scheduled to play this week’s McGladrey Classic. Huh is not scheduled to play Sea Island. Stay tuned. – Rex Hoggard

Golf could get confusing next year. So confusing, time will bend to accommodate money. If the European Tour’s move this week to attract Tiger Woods and other PGA Tour pros to become members works, we could see top players competing in both the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Race to Dubai’s reconfigured finale.

With the European Tour about to begin including the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup against the 13 minimum events it requires for membership, Americans such as Woods will be tempted to consider dual membership. With a new schedule kicking in next year, a time warp awaits. Top players will be able to start the 2014 PGA Tour season before they end the 2013 European Tour season.

The PGA Tour’s 2013 season will end next year with the FedEx Cup playoffs in September. The Tour’s 2014 season will begin in October, before the European Tour’s 2013 Race to Dubai ends in late November. With the WGC-HSBC Champions expected to become an official PGA Tour event next year, it will be possible for top players to earn money in that event that will count on the 2013 European Tour money list and the 2014 PGA Tour money list. Randall Mell

I’d lost track of the 2005 U.S. Open champion from Pinehurst before he re-emerged this weekend on a leaderboard in Portugal. Who knew that Michael Campbell was still knocking it around?

The last time I saw Campbell swing a golf club, he was holding off Tiger Woods on the back nine of No. 2. Between holes, he’d sometimes duck into a port-o-john and do little eye exercises. He believed they helped him with his putting. Whether they did, Campbell did enough to beat Woods in a year when Tiger claimed two majors. Campbell, a New Zealander, had come out of nowhere.

After the final round, Steve Williams, Tiger’s caddie, stuck around to congratulate and hug his fellow Kiwi. Williams knew this would be big news back home. Campbell later bumped into Tiger in the Pinehurst men’s room, where two reporters overheard their conversation.

“How do you do this so often?” Campbell asked Woods of winning majors.

“Luck,” Woods replied.

Campbell wasn’t heard from much after 2005. His game went south, and his scores skyrocketed. On Sunday, the 43-year-old finished third in Portugal, with dark sunglasses and that powerful swing I remember. Who knows where this will take him? Damon Hack