Justin Rose: It was just a matter of time before a breakthrough in the majors - he might be the purest ball striker in the world now. Rose's putting strokes comes and goes, but he handled the meandering greens of Merion more than well enough. It's surprising to see him still keeping the date at the Travelers, but he's a man of his word. This won't be Rose's last major.
Phil Mickelson: You can't bash him for another second-place finish - this wasn't a Winged Foot giveaway, it was merely a case of someone playing better when it mattered. But if Mickelson's putter hadn't burped so many times in the first 54 holes, the Sunday round may not have mattered. At what point is Lefty's U.S. open case shut for good? Forget him for next month's British Open, that's an event Mickelson has never enjoyed - or figured out.
Jason Dufner: He's only missed two cuts this year, but there haven't been many runs on the weekend, which is why Sunday's 67 is so refreshing to see. Dufner keeps piping the ball down the middle every week and is a dynamite iron player; maybe his finishing kick at Merion will get his short game jump-started. We're expecting Dufner to win an event before the end of 2013.
Ernie Els: He didn't get a ton of air time but a T4 on the heels of last year's surprise at the British Open is nifty validation for Els at age 43. He's still blessed with perfect tempo and temperament, and the putting stroke has come back to him. Well played, Big Easy.
Johnny Miller: He's the best golfing announcer that's ever lived, by far, and he's surrounded by a decent cast of NBC talent (keep an eye on up-and-comer Notah Begay). The NBC truck also did its job with a strong week of pictures and production flow. Take a bow, peacock.
Tiger Woods: Maybe he's not healthy, but there's not much good to say about how he slogged it around for four days, and Tiger's weekend focus tends to trail off if he's not within striking range of the leaders. Jack's final tally of 18 majors is looking pretty, pretty good at the moment - while Woods certainly isn't done winning majors yet, he's starting to look pretty old for 37.
Charl Schwartzel: He's already a made man with the Masters win from 2011, but that final-round 78 is going to leave a mark - and it comes on the heels of an ordinary Masters (T25) and a no-chance at the Players (T55). He needs to find a more consistent swing off the tee in critical moments, especially on the tighter layouts.
Jim Furyk: A grinder's mentality will only go so far - Furyk never got the pace of the greens down and was slamming the trunk after an uneventful 77-79. The smoldering debris of 2012 (the U.S. Open collapse, the Ryder Cup fiasco) might still be lingering in Furyk's mind.
Golf Media: Sure, Merion is going to be exposed by today's long hitters. Gotcha, scoring records are going to fall from the sky. Kudos to Rory McIlroy with the ultimate zinger to the press room: "You guys must be very good golfers." Tilted and confusing greens will always defend a course, especially when the USGA is setting the hole locations.
Steve Stricker: A T8 in a major, that's good. The Sunday shank (the worst shot we've seen all year), that's bad. And now Stricker goes back into semi-hibernation, to focus on family and try to forget those final 18 holes. Expect him to contend at the PGA Championship in August.