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If You Want to Catch The Open, Your Tee Time is Early. Very Early
July 20, 2017  | By Gerald Jordan
 

Set your clocks to OMG time, because that’s what you’ll need to snap to attention at 1:30 a.m. EDT Thursday to watch the 146th edition of The Open. All of that, of course, is for those true devotees of the Ancient Game. Unlike the emerald beauty of Augusta National, the links tracks across the U.K. that allow the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews to identify the “champion golfer of the year,” look more like open ranges with occasional patches of somewhat green.

In short, The Open is not remotely the prettiest golf event for television, but there’s something particularly endearing about competing for the title champion golfer of the year. It sounds so quaint, so old fashioned; really, just so old. But the winner at Royal Birkdale, the golfer who gets the better of a four-day test across 72 holes of par 70 that covers 7,173 yards, will cash a check for $1.845 million. That puts quaint in the rearview mirror, but the claret jug (the championship trophy with 2014 winner Rory McIlroy, top) and the title make this oldest golf championship one to watch.

The Golf Channel and NBC Sports popped the coverage cork Monday with golf junkie coverage on Morning Drive and Live From The Open. Along with traditional TV coverage, the networks have scheduled three live alternate feeds – marquee groups, featured holes, and spotlight action – according to Golf Channel Digital. For the motivated, but not quite fanatic, GolfChannel.com will have coverage replays Thursday through Sunday.

Crosswinds off the Irish Sea will not only remind competitors that this is links golf but also likely to deliver four seasons over the four days. Those 123 bunkers (sand traps for the uninitiated) spread over Royal Birkdale also will join the fun, especially when players choose to putt from the fairway onto the greens. Think of it this way: the monster hitters on tour won’t reach for the driver very often. Phil Mickelson didn’t even pack one, bowing to links experience and respect for gusts off the Irish Sea.

Justin Rose called Royal Birkdale the best links course, in an interview on The Golf Channel. Paul Casey called it “the finest links course that we play.” Check with them again at the end of play Friday.

The field of 156 (depending upon the number who withdraw for injury or other reasons) will be reduced to the leading 70 competitors by Saturday. NBC will feature live coverage from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. (EDT) Saturday and 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday when officials of the R&A bestow the title champion golfer of the year.

 
 
 
 
 
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