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The Latest British Invasion from Liverpool: Tiger Woods, with Long Odds
July 16, 2014  | By Gerald Jordan

Set your alarms for 4 o’clock OMG if you want to catch the scheduled Thursday morning opening for ESPN coverage of The Open from Royal Liverpool.

For the real golf fans, that’s about the same time that you’d line up to get a tee time at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. (For the uninitiated, that’s the deliciously challenging track on Long Island.)

OK, so the options are plentiful.

The Open, you see, is what we on this side of the Atlantic call The British Open Golf Tournament. When the rotation of British courses takes the tournament to the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews, the coverage invariably celebrates “the old sod.” It’s unavoidable. If Augusta National is the cathedral of golf, St. Andrews is the Vatican, Scotland’s Presbyterian leanings notwithstanding.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake last presented The Open in 2006, when the golfer known worldwide by one name – Tiger – won (right).

This year is different: Royal Liverpool (seen below, left) is surprisingly green, and Tiger is covered in rust.

In both instances, it’ll make for some pretty good TV.

Links courses in the British Open photograph horribly for TV. If the brown fairways don’t look about 180 degrees opposite the lush green tracks customarily seen on golf TV (Augusta National springs immediately to mind), then the chest-high rough makes golfers who’ve hit errant drives look as though they’re wandering in a post-apocalyptic land.

Early reports from the field say the rough isn’t as tall as it was in ’06. Tiger has played once since back surgery sidelined him at the end of March, and he missed the cut. The betting line on him has teetered between 20-to-1 and 25-to-1.

Australian Adam Scott, ranked No. 1 in the world, leads the numeric parade of favorites. Phil Mickelson (right), the defending Open champion, has said he could play the best golf of his career over the next five years. That’s truly an admirable claim for a 44-year-old, as well as a testament to how a pro golfing career can extend well beyond other sports.

Youth, however, must be served; look for Rory McIlroy (two majors on his resume) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open winner) to set the pace.

And Royal Liverpool might have another wicked feature to toss at viewers: wind and rain.

What would a British Open be without foul weather? And the game just wouldn’t be links golf without brisk gusts off the water that the course “links” to the land.

Here’s your best bet, golf fans: Get up early if you’re in the Eastern Time Zone. Stay up late if you’re in the Pacific Time Zone. Toss a coin if you’re in the Central Time Zone. Take Thursday off from work if it’s possible. Don’t operate any heavy equipment or machinery if you have to go to work.

At any rate, pace yourself: 4 a.m. is the EDT start for the ESPN telecasts Thursday and Friday. Sleep in until 7 a.m. EDT Saturday. Apologize for nodding off in Sunday services if you made the 6 a.m. tee off.

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