For the first time since 1988, and for just the second time in the championship's history, the British Open will have a Monday finish. It's never ideal to conclude any tournament on a Monday, whether it's a regular PGA Tour stop or a major championship. The delayed conclusion is a blow to the players, the tournament, the would-be fans and the media partners carrying coverage who were expecting a Sunday evening finish.
The Open Championship has several complications for the U.S. audience, the biggest being the obvious time change. For dedicated golf watchers, the once-a-year tradition of getting up in the middle of the night to watch a major is desirable. It happens for just a few days each year and it's a fun experience to try and develop the best method for grinding through it -- stay out all night, crash early, coffee, beer? The final two rounds are a little easier because the leaders tee off at a reasonable hour in the eastern U.S. and finish up sometime after lunch. Of course, ESPN just doesn't expect that to extend into Monday.
ESPN, along with their sister network ABC, have had rights to the Open Championship in one form or another for 55 years, and they have the broadcast down to a routine. But this year is their penultimate British Open. NBC, who just lost the U.S. Open to FOX, had the winning bid for the British last month and will take over along with their sister network, Golf Channel, in 2017. So this is the ESPN crew's final call at St. Andrews.
It's enjoyable to poke ESPN and they take plenty of crap for being an uptight conglomerate, but the network has done an awesome job adjusting to the constant schedule changes this weekend. They keep adding hours and hours of coverage, going live Saturday at 2 a.m. when they weren't supposed to be on the air until 7 a.m. When the play runs over, and it had every day until Sunday, they stayed live until every notable golfer was in the clubhouse or the entire round ended. Their talent has been great on the call all week as well. It's been an admirable job and no shot or player of consequence has been missed during this messy start-and-stop edition of the Open.
Monday will be no different as the network adjusted on the fly and will have a full final round broadcast. They won't get the numbers they would have for the normal Sunday finale, but the coverage will run for the same hours as their typical Open final round broadcast. They will go live at 6 a.m. ET, a good three hours before the heavy hitters and last few groups on the leaderboard tee off at the Old Course.
Here are all your media options for Monday:
Final round coverage
6 a.m. to conclusion (~2 p.m.) -- ESPN
6 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- WatchESPN/ESPN3 simulcast of TV coverage, Spanish feed and International (BBC) streams
4 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208) / ESPN Radio app
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