The first two rounds of the Open Championship are the longest days in golf, and ESPN covers each round for 11 hours for some of the longest broadcasts of the year. The extended sunlight hours in the UK in July allow the R&A to put the entire 156-man field off the first tee, with almost 10 hours of rolling tee times from 6:30 a.m. past 4 p.m. local in Hoylake. It's an extremely long day, made longer for the American audience that braves the darkness and wakes up in the middle of the night to watch some of the top players in the world get 18 holes in before they have breakfast.
Fortunately for ESPN, Tiger Woods, the top TV draw by a mile, will play when most of the United States is awake and anxious to watch his every shot. Tiger fell on the AM side of the draw on Thursday, going out at 4 a.m. ET and wrapping up his first major championship round of the year just before 9 a.m. on the East Coast. For the second round, however, he'll head out at 9:05 a.m. ET and probably won't finish until 1:30 p.m. That's a pretty nice coverage window for ESPN, and it helps that Tiger is in the hunt at 3-under and currently tied for 10th.
When Woods takes the first tee, the TV coverage will already be some five hours into their 11-hour broadcast. ESPN will go live at 4 a.m. ET, with plenty of live look-ins and reports starting around 3:30 a.m. And this is one of the better golf broadcasts of the year, with Scott Van Pelt, Mike Tirico, Sean McDonough, and Peter Alliss all involved. Van Pelt always makes the coverage more entertaining, and he'll split duties with Tirico as the main anchor while the lead analysts will be a mix of Paul Azinger, Andy North, and some Curtis Strange.
The British Open
The British Open
While Tiger will headline the second half of the coverage, it will be defending champion Phil Mickelson out in the morning wave. Mickelson shot a 2-over 74 in the first round, playing in some of the tougher scoring conditions on Thursday. And it looks like it won't get any easier for the lefty, as the forecast calls for the morning draw on Friday to get the short end of the stick. The winds are expected to blow much more than they did in the first round, but then die off by the afternoon. The Open is the most prominent event where the luck of the draw so often plays a role in your chance to win, with conditions changing so significantly and rapidly that the AM wave and PM wave can play what amounts to two different golf courses. Adam Scott was really the only player to post a number late on Thursday, getting in at 4-under. He should still be in it at the midpoint, but Phil will have a harder time making up ground if all the guys playing after him on Friday will have easier chances at birdie.
The broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday, when the field is cut in half, are much more manageable and span the usual six-to-seven hour window. But Friday is the one of those two days of the year where it's exciting to wake up at ungodly hours and watch major championship golf. Here are all your media options for the second round at Royal Liverpool:
Friday's second 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 Phil Mickelson (4:04 a.m.) and Tiger Woods (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)