A major championship is never short on storylines, but the 2014 British Open has even more compelling angles than usual. With Tiger Woods playing in his first major following back surgery and Phil Mickelson coming in as the defending champion, there will be plenty of eyes on Royal Liverpool this week. While the time difference from the United Kingdom to the United States can be an obstacle, viewers awake in the early morning will be able to watch every shot Woods and Mickelson hit, with extensive coverage from ESPN.
The network will broadcast for 11 hours on Thursday, with a number of online streams also adding to the coverage. Woods is scheduled to tee off at 4:04 a.m. ET, conveniently four minutes after the ESPN coverage begins at 4 a.m. Woods is the story of any event he plays, so he's always going to be a major focus of the coverage. That goes with the territory of being a 14-time major championship winner.
The British Open
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With multiple online streams and more than 11 hours of live coverage, viewers won't miss much of the action at Royal Liverpool on Thursday.
The British Open
This week there is even more intrigue, as Woods is returning to the site of his last Open Championship. Woods took advantage of prime weather conditions to post 18-under and win the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool. Repeating that performance would be a challenge and it's an even bigger one with Woods making just his second start in four months. Woods missed the cut in his return from back surgery and there will be extra attention on the state of his form. Is he back to the player he was? Or will he struggle to even make the cut at Hoylake?
In addition to being a central focus of the television coverage, Woods will also be part of the featured stream of the early wave. ESPN3 will have a dedicated group stream that will allow viewers to watch every shot Woods and his playing partners Henrik Stenson and Angel Cabrera hit. Mickelson and his pairing with Bubba Watson and Ernie Els will be the featured group of the afternoon wave. They are scheduled to tee off at 9:05 a.m.
ESPN's television broadcast will run until 3 p.m. which should come close to taking it through the end of the first round. A few groups will tee off before coverage begins and a couple might still be on the course when the broadcast ends, but the coverage will be about as thorough as a viewer will get in a major championship. In addition to the main coverage and feature group streams, there will also be a international view stream, a live online simulcast and a featured hole stream that will cover Nos. 13 through 15. Scott Van Pelt and Mike Tirico will anchor the coverage with Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange and Andy North serving as analysts.
Thursday's first round coverage
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- ESPN
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- ESPN3 simulcast of TV coverage, Spanish feed, and International (BBC) streams
4 a.m. to TBD ET -- ESPN3 Tiger Woods (4:04 a.m.) and Phil Mickelson (9:05 a.m.) cam, streaming every shot
4 a.m. ET -- ESPN3 featured holes stream, Nos. 13 through 15
7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET -- ESPN Radio / PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)