Dubai Desert Classic: What It Takes To Win

Words by
Dan Davies & Josh Coles
Dubai Desert Classic: What It Takes To Win

The Dubai Desert Classic broke new ground in 1989 when it brought top-flight professional golf to the United Arab Emirates. England’s Mark James won the inaugural edition of the tournament in a playoff. In the 34 years since, the event has produced a roll call of champions that reflects its place on the tournament golf calendar.

Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland are among those with their names on the iconic Arabian Coffee Pot trophy.

Using Clippd, we can show exactly how good some of the golf on the Majlis Course has been over the years. With Shot Quality and Player Quality, Clippd’s powerful new metrics, we can reveal the overall quality of winning performances, and how well each champion performed in each part of the game.

Both Shot Quality and Player Quality are represented as single numbers between 0 and 200. A Shot Quality of 0 represents the worst possible outcome (lost ball, ball out of bounds); 100 is men’s tour average; 200 represents statistical perfection (hole in one, holing out from distance). For Player Quality, 100 denotes tour average.

So let’s look at the skills required to succeed at the Emirates GC, and see how well the last five winners of the Dubai Desert Classic played in the weeks that they triumphed.

What It Takes To Win

Last 5 winners

Hovland's success was built on his driving. His Average Shot Quality with the driver was an exceptional 115 (100 is tour average).

The Norwegian's Average Shot Quality for the 30 shots he hit from 180+ yards last year was 103, which was 9 better than field average.

The Norwegian faced 18 putts of 15-35ft for an Average Shot Quality of 106 (field average was 96).

The Englishman's 15th DP World Tour victory was built on brilliant iron play. His Average Shot Quality for approach play was 111 (field average was 100).

His 31 shots from 140-180 yards produced an Average Shot Quality of 117.

180+ yards has been the most important distance to scoring at the DDC over the last five years. Casey played 31 shots for an Average Shot Quality of 105.

The Australian's approach play (APP Avg Shot Quality: 94) was four worse than the field average but his short game was quite brilliant.

Herbert's Average Shot Quality for around the green (ARG) shots from rough was 119, which is 16 higher than any other player in this list.

In 2020, his overall ARG play was 10 better than field average.

Bryson's prodigious length contributed to an Average Shot Quality of 112 for off the tee (OTT), 8 better than the field average.

The American gave himself the opportunities to attack, capitalising with an Average Shot Quality of 117 for the 11 shots he faced from 100-140 yards.

Finishing at 24 under par for the tournament requires a hot putter. DeChambeau finished 5 better than field average for putting (PUTT) Average Shot Quality.

The Chinese player was exceptional with irons from 140-180 yards. He hit 25 shots at an Average Shot Quality of 122 (100 is tour average) which was 10 better than field average.

His putting was quite ridiculous: his Average Shot Quality scores were 113 from 8-15 ft, 116 from 3-8 ft and 111 from 15-35 ft, all at least 10 better than field average.

His PUTT Average Shot Quality for the tournament was 108, the highest in the last five years and 7 better than 2018 field average.