ESPN’s Wall-To-Wall British Open Coverage: A Chris Berman-Free Zone

PEBBLE BEACH CA - FEBRUARY 09: Sports commentator Chris Berman salutes the fans during the 3M Celebrity Challenge at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 9 2011 in Pebble Beach California. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

ESPN cranks it up for the British Open. But, sorry, Chris Berman fans (all three of you): Boomer is not a member of the Open Championship broadcast team.

For the next four days, your TV source for everything British Open will be ESPN, which will broadcast 36 hours of live play starting with the Insomniac’s Special at 4:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and Friday.

The sports station moved up its opening 30 minutes to let golf fans who forget to take their Ambien catch Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play their entire rounds (Woods tees off at 4:42 a.m. on Thursday, with Mickelson slated to start at 4:31 a.m. on Friday).

Indeed, with smooth-talking Mike Tirico hosting the proceedings for the 17th consecutive year, and 1993 PGA champ Paul Azinger doing much of the heavy lifting as lead analyst, ESPN will offer a stellar broadcast crew notable for its depth of talent as well as its lack of one Chris (Back Back Back) Berman.

You remember Boomer -- the insufferable, hackneyed voice of ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open. This year, as in years past, Boomer’s tortuous Open stint elicited a raft of, shall we say, rather uncomplimentary comments from the Twitter-verse, members of which instigated a #ShutUpBerman campaign reminiscent of an earlier #ShutUpJohnny protest when NBC’s Miller was the target of TV watchers’ wrath.

Antipathy toward the self-promoting Miller pales, however, compared to the vitriol that Berman -- the “Human Vuvuzela,” according to Golf Digest’s John Strege (and that’s one of the kinder monikers real people and golf pundits have attached to ESPN’s franchise) -- inspires. After all, not everyone can raise the ire of TV viewers the way Berman does, to wit:

“Chris Berman is the most odious, obnoxious, vulgar, rude, stupid, fatuous, loud, superficial, tedious person in TV history,” tweeted self-described “slightly mad” soccer/football writer Trey Wilson. For sure, @mattmc24 spoke for many when he pleaded, “Oh my god Chris Berman. #stoptalking.”

We could go on and on, but the point is you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the Brit’s national championship in peace and quiet, as Tirico, Azinger, and a staff that includes Scott Van Pelt (who plays himself in a new SportsCenter ad starring Phil Mickelson), two-time U.S. Open champs Curtis Strange and Andy North, Terry Gannon, the BBC’s Peter Allis, and Sean McDonough bring you the wall-to-wall action from Royal Lytham.

ESPN will provide live TV coverage of the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday from 4:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday’s coverage will air live from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and Sunday’s finale will run from 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Late sleepers may prefer to view highlights of the day’s play during afternoon and prime-time hours. You may also tune into ESPN Radio, which, for the first time, will broadcast 24 hours of live action over the four days of the Open Championship. More than 140 hours will also be available on computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

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