The first two days of the Open Championship are the longest days of the year in golf. The entire 156-man field goes off the No. 1 tee in almost 10 hours of rolling tee times, and it's a grind for those watching from the States. ESPN goes live at 4 a.m. and shows live golf sometimes all the way up to 4 p.m. in the East. The most dedicated souls have come to enjoy this annual overnight excursion into links golf, celebrating the odd-hour major championship as a treat for two days each year.
Friday's round will feature most of the big guns out during the more reasonable hours in the US. Grand Slam hopeful Jordan Spieth, 18-hole leader Dustin Johnson, and the must-watch circus of Tiger Woods are all on the same side of the draw, playing within a half-hour cluster of tee times. On Thursday, they were all done by 10 a.m. ET, which was probably fortunate for Tiger, who hit ugly shot after ugly shot on the way to the worst score of his pro career at St. Andrews.
Spieth and DJ, however, lit it up right from the start. They are probably the top two talents in the entire field, and while the drudgery of a Tiger round generates interest, it's Spieth and Johnson who should get as much exposure as possible. Johnson is 7-under and in sole possession of the lead, while Spieth is just two back of the pace. Their start on Thursday was the highlight of the entire round, but most of the American audience was still asleep. On Friday, they tee off at
9:34 a.m. 12:48 p.m. ET and will have their every shot shown during the marquee portion of the broadcast leading into the weekend.
ESPN is in its penultimate year of Open Championship coverage, just a month removed from losing the rights to the oldest major in golf to NBC/Golf Channel. A St. Andrews Open is obviously on a different level than the others, and ESPN has treated it as such. It will stay on air past the scheduled 3 p.m. finish time if big name players are still out on the course, and it got so slow on Thursday that Tiger and his 9:56 a.m. tee time may still be hacking it around past then. The weather is supposed to get Open Championship ugly on Friday, with rain and wind in the morning turning into 40 mph gusts for the afternoon. So this will be your typical Open scene in the second round as the field just tries to hold on and keep their sanity on the links.
UPDATE: Heavy rains overwhelmed the course early Friday morning, and with just two groups out on the course, play was halted for almost 3.5 hours. The entire tee sheet is now operating off that delay and the final tee time won't go out until almost 7:30 p.m. local. You can play golf deep into the night and past 10 p.m. this time of year in Scotland, but most of the late draw is not going to finish before darkness. ESPN will likely extend their coverage until play is called for darkness, sometime after 4:30 p.m. ET back in the States. Here are all your media options for day 2 at St. Andrews:
Friday's second round coverage
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- ESPN
4 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- WatchESPN/ESPN3 simulcast of TV coverage, Spanish feed, and International (BBC) streams
4:20 a.m. ET -- WatchESPN/ESPN3 Featured Groups stream -- (7:47 a.m. -- Mickelson/Stenson/Kuchar; 12:48 p.m. -- Spieth/D. Johnson/Matsuyama)
4:50 a.m. ET -- WatchESPN/ESPN3 featured holes stream -- No. 17, St. Andrews' famous "Road Hole"
7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET -- ESPN Radio / PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)