Watching Golf this Week: The British Open, aka The Open Championship, is ESPN’s Baby

Since this thing starts darn early Thursday morning — how does 4:30 a.m. Eastern time sound to you? We decided to give you a heads-up on watching golf this week, since after all it is the British Open… or as they call it over there, the Open Championship. The nut is: It’s all ESPN, all week long, for coverage of golf’s oldest tourney. To wit:

The 152nd renewal of golf’s oldest major, The Open Championship, will air live across ESPN platforms July 19-22 from Royal Lytham & St Annes in Lancashire, England. ESPN will present 36 hours of live four-round television coverage as well as prime time and afternoon encores for 73 total hours on TV.

For the first time, ESPN Radio will broadcast live action from The Open Championship with 24 total hours over the four days of the event. More than 140 hours of digital platform coverage also will appear on computers, tablets and mobile devices.

ESPN, ESPN3 and WatchESPN will have 10.5 scheduled hours of live play from each of the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday, July 19-20, from 4:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET. The third round on Saturday, July 21, will air live from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. with the final round on Sunday, July 22, airing live from 6 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

When it comes to watching golf — on TV or the computer — for me it is a yearly tossup as to which one I like better of the four majors, between the Masters and the British Open. Though I respect the challenge of the U.S. Open, watching it is sometimes more train wreck than golf excitement. You would have to go back to Tiger at Torrey Pines in 2008, for me, for visual excitement. The British Open, on the other hand, has weather, history, and some funky golf shots made necessary by the sheep-mown lands. It’s rarely boring and a treat after watching cookie-cutter TPC courses week after week.

Lately, the Masters has been a pleasure for online fans simply because of the multitude of offerings sent our way over the innerwebs, including the great Amen Corner cam that stays fixed on the middle stretch of Augusta National. The British Open, which rotates from course to course, is going to get a little of that treatment this year, as ESPN is promising some isolated-hole coverage of its own via its online channel, ESPN3. That’s in addition to wall-to-wall TV coverage ESPN has announced — we won’t even try to copy the list, just go here and look. Basically if you love the British Open you’re going to love ESPN this week. Gorse, heather and Scott Van Pelt. And with any luck, no Boomer.

Who’s going to win this thing? Good question. The good news for U.S. golf fans is that if you want to spend all your time watching Phil and Tiger, ESPN is even making a concession for you — though the promos on ESPN Monday night were talking about a 5 a.m. Eastern start time to coverage, Geoff Shackelford and others found out that the Worldwide Leader will actually start its cameras a half-hour earlier, to not miss any of Phil or Tiger’s early rounds.

Can I have a hallelujah? More specifics in our regular WGTW post on Thursday. Remember, you need to have a valid cable contract with Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks or Comcast to watch the ESPN coverage online.


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