The 2013 British Open Championship tees off Thursday morning in Scotland, with opening round coverage beginning in the middle of the night in the United States. The five-hour time difference is another element that makes The Open the most unique major in all of golf. The TV coverage will begin on ESPN at 4 a.m. ET, but the worldwide leader will also offer a look-in livestream earlier than that with tee times starting well before 2 a.m. in the States.
The first group will tee off at 1:32 a.m. ET, with tee times rolling off No. 1 in groups of three. One can play golf for almost 17 hours this time of year in Scotland, with the sun coming up before 5 a.m. and courses staying lit up until at least 10 p.m. With that amount of daylight available, the R&A is not forced to send players off split tees in a morning and afternoon wave. The USGA, which has a comparable sized field of 156, scrambles to get in the first two rounds before cutting the field down at the U.S. Open. One early thunderstorm threw the entire schedule off for three days at Merion this year, but there's a significantly greater margin in Scotland (and as we saw the last time the Open was at Muirfield, they'll let them play in just about any conditions). With those advantages, the R&A will send all groups off No. 1 for 11 straight hours and the final groups likely won't finish until 9 p.m. local.
The best way to watch online is through ESPN3, which will simulcast the TV coverage throughout the weekend. ESPN will be on the air from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday and that complete round coverage will be online at ESPN3.com. Before that, however, ESPN3 will have an @TheOpen Live show beginning at 2:30 a.m. This should be more of just a preview show, with discussion and leaderboard updates as opposed to full-fledged coverage of the first round. Unlike the Masters and U.S. Open, the British does not offer multiple online streams through their website. The other majors, and some regular stops on Tour, provide featured groups and featured holes streams but for The Open, watching ESPN's simulcast is your best option. Here are the coverage options for Thursday's opening round:
Thursday's first round live coverage
4 a.m. - 3 p.m. - Live coverage on ESPN
2:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. -- @TheOpen Live show on ESPN3
4 a.m. - 3 p.m. - Live coverage on ESPN3
7 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Live coverage on ESPN Radio