The Claret Jug won't be awarded until Sunday, but players will begin the quest toward winning the 2014 British Open on Thursday when they tee it up in the first round. With the event happening in England, the time difference will make for some early hours for those who want to watch in the United States. Although the times may not be very accommodating, the coverage will be with a long television broadcast and multiple online streams.
ESPN will handle the broadcast and the company will tap into its television and digital properties to provide extensive coverage. The first group is scheduled to tee off at 1:25 a.m. ET and play will continue well into the afternoon. The ESPN coverage won't be live for every shot hit, but it will be close. There will be 11 hours of live television coverage with the broadcast scheduled to run from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. Viewers with access to WatchESPN will be able to watch a live simulcast stream of the coverage beginning at 4 a.m.
The British Open
The British Open
But there will be more than just the main broadcast, with five online streams supplementing ESPN's coverage. Tiger Woods and his return to major championship action will be one of the biggest stories on Thursday. Woods is scheduled to tee off at 4:04 a.m. in the first round, just minutes after the television coverage begins. Although he figures to receive plenty of coverage during the standard broadcast, there will be a dedicated stream of Woods' round on ESPN3, allowing viewers to see every shot he hits. The stream will shift to coverage of Phil Mickelson in the afternoon with Mickelson scheduled to tee off at 9:05 a.m.
Viewers will also be able to catch bonus action with a live stream of Nos. 13, 14 and 15. That stretch of holes could be pivotal with a pair of par-3s surrounding a tough par-4 14th. The stretch figures to be a challenge with Nos. 13 and 14 both ranking among the hardest holes on the course in the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool. Whether that is the case this year depends largely on how much the wind is a factor. No. 15 should be a birdie opportunity, but a poor tee shot can lead to trouble in a hurry. The coverage will include the player partners, with means extra coverage of Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els and Bubba Watson.
Those who prefer an international view will also have that option thanks to a dedicated stream from ESPN3. The final stream of the day will be @TheOpen Live. That coverage will be focused less on the action inside the ropes and more on the atmosphere around the course with interviews and press conferences mixed in. That stream will kick off the coverage on Thursday when it begins at 3:30 a.m.
In all, viewers will have multiple options to watch the first round online. They can opt for 11 hours of the traditional broadcast, follow every player through three holes, see what's going on around the course and see every shot hit by two of the biggest names in the field.
First round coverage
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. - ESPN
3:30 a.m. - @TheOpen Live
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Live coverage on WatchESPN
4 a.m. - Featured hole stream of No. 13, 14 and 15
4 a.m. - Tiger Woods featured group stream on ESPN3
4 a.m. - International view live coverage on ESPN3
9 a.m. - Phil Mickelson featured group stream on ESPN3
7 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Live coverage on ESPN Radio