PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

The Loop

What does it take to win a team title?

February 09, 2010

My apologizes for getting to this point so late, but it was something that caught my attention when looking at the scores last week from the Amer Ari Invitational in Maui. I've often wondered if there was way to quantify the ideal scoring distribution for a school to win a college tournament in a play five, count four scenario.

What I mean is, would you rather have one player finish first individually, another with a top-five showing, one with a top-20 and the others in the top-30? Or do you need two top-fives, one top-20 and two top-50s?

The questions speaks to just how important having "depth" is in actually winning tournaments. The easy answer is that it's extremely important. Having five players who all can post top-20 finishes (or better) every event is ideal because it puts less pressure on any one individual. But if you had two first-team All-Americans and three scrubs, could you get by (provided obviously your horses played lights out)?

Suffice it to say, I don't have a real answer in what's the ideal distribution and I am very open to other peoples thoughts on what they believe is the best scenario for success. However, check out how some things played out in Hawaii and you'll see why the topic intrigues me (not to mention how hard it would be to really quantify this). Below is the top six teams at the tournament, in reverse order of finish:

Georgia Tech, 6th/+13

Kyle Scott, -1/215, T-6

James White, -1/215, T-6

J.T. Griffin, +1/217, T-10

Paul Haley, +18/234, T-85

Bo Andrews, +20/236, T-93

Oklahoma State, 5th/+7

Kevin Tway, -4/212, 3rd

Trent Whitekiller, E/216, T-8

Morgan Hoffmann, +5/221, T-29

Sean Einhaus, +7/223, T-44

Peter Uihlein, +18/234, T-85

Texas, 4th/+6

Bobby Hudson, -7/209, Win

Johnathan Schnitzer, +4/220, T-21

Charlie Holland, +5/221, T-29

Dylan Frittelli, +5/221, T-29

Cody Gribble, +16/232, T-74

Washington, T-2/+5

Nick Taylor, -3/213, T-4

Charlie Hughes, +1/217, T-10

Richard Lee, +6/222, T-40

Darren Wallace, +6/222, T-40

Tze Huang Cho, +11/227, T-54

Oregon, T-2/+5

Andrew Vijarro, E/216, T-8

Eugene Wong, +1/217, T-10

Daniel Miernicki, +1/217, T-10

Isaiah Telles, +3/219, T-19

Sean Maekawa, +14/230, T-67

Stanford, WIN/+2

Sihwan Kim, -3/213, T-4

David Chung, +2/218, T-16

Andrew Yun, +5/221, T-29

Jordan Cox, +5/221, T-29

Steve Ziegler, +7/223, T-44

So, does having the most guys in the top-10 mean you're more likely to win? Not in Hawaii, at least. Georgia Tech had three, but finished sixth overall. Meanwhile, Stanford, the winning team had only one top-15 finisher.

Here's another breakdown of the numbers, looking at players individual finishes:


Granted what this doesn't take into account is individual scores in specific rounds (one player might have had two 70s and then an 82, finished really badly but his two low scores allowed his two to win). But my point is to just look at how people finish to see if there's one distribution that is the most reliable in predicting victory.