It is time for the Open Championship. Referred to as the "British Open" to avoid confusion, it is golf's oldest tournament played on some of the oldest golf courses in existence. And while there are some differences to the golf you play or what you normally watch on TV, what remains the same is it will include lots of UGA golf alums in competition. So here's a primer on what you need to know:
7 Bulldogs will be teeing it up at Royal Liverpool just outside of, yes, Liverpool, England (tee times listed below). The number of Dawgs Playing Golf in this major may be a record, but the DS Research Department has yet to confirm this due to it's exhausting nature and we were watching the World Cup for some reason. This course is on the other side of England from London and is probably closer to Dublin than London proper. The typical English summer will be in effect, as the course is essentially on the Irish Sea. So expect clouds, rain squalls, sweaters. Unless Tiger Woods is playing well, in which case it will be mild, calm, and dry. In all seriousness, this major favors those with favorable tee times. The weather will turn quickly, and a calm morning often turns to a tumultuous afternoon. So those who play before or after bad weather on any given day receive great benefit. Thursday is calling for a pleasant but cloudy morning, but the wind will pick up just a bit in the afternoon. Because of aforementioned Irish Sea, and being the British Isles, no forecast is safe and none is given more than about 36 hours in advance.
A couple of things about the tee times: they typically swap times from Thursday to Friday (in which all players play both days before the cut is made for the weekend - top 70 players and ties after two rounds make it to the weekend). So if a player has an early tee time Thursday, they will get something later Friday. And if a late Thursday tee time, it will be earlier on Friday, though there seems to be some randomness in there somewhere. But pay close attention to the announcer on the first tee. This guy has been doing it for ages. He just states their name, but his voice is hysterically high and nasally. But again, he's been doing it for ages. (Side note: the guy doesn't take a bathroom break or eat/drink anything while he's on duty. Really. For like 10 hours or something. He will eventually succumb to the torture he puts himself through, but it is one of the dozens of intricacies of tournaments hosted by the Royal & Ancient).
The course itself is typical of an Open Championship course in their rota, and is not very lush. It plays 7,312 yards which is shortish to today's typical pro tourney, but is playing to par 72. However, there is not a clear "front" or "back" nine. There is instead an "outward" and "inward" nine. The outward nine has only one par 5 and plays to par 35, while the inward nine starts and ends with par 5's and one more sandwiched in between, playing to par 37. The nines are less prominent than the 18 holes overall, so just keep that in mind. There are 82 bunkers ( less than 5 per hole) and this is small change compared to other Open venues (think 10-12 per hole, seriously). Lots of long fescue instead of typical rough, and lots of brown. Play the ball low and run it onto the mostly flat greens, staying in the fairway off the tee and avoiding pot bunkers is the key.
ESPN will have the TV coverage most of the day starting at 4:00 am EST. Yes, 4:00 am. And while Tirico, Strange, Azinger, et al. will be talking most of the day, Peter Alliss** will come on the air at some point and wax drunkenly poetic in his English accent and make American fans feel bad about themselves. But hey, tradition and all that. So wake up early, skip the gym and watch Bulldogs play throughout the day on a worldwide broadcast.
Thursday Tee Times of Note (purportedly displayed in Eastern US time zone)*:
1:58 Erik Compton
3:53 Harris English (see what he did there?)
5:54 Brian Harman (punched his ticket last Sunday - see previous posts)
7:32 Brendon Todd
8:36 Chris Kirk
9:05 Bubba Watson (playing with Phil and Ernie - this will get more than enough coverage)
9:16 Russell Henley (Macon boy makes good)
Friday Tee Times:
2:31 Brendon Todd
3:15 Chris Kirk
4:04 Bubba Watson
4:15 Russell Henley
6:59 Erik Compton
8:54 Harris English
10:55 Brian Harman
*disclaimer: between using a 24 hour clock for tee times, and the time difference, I sure as hell hope I got this right. If not, be confident that I will never again do a fanpost nor post anything with math involved. Because I was told there would be no math.
** if you've ever seen someone hit a putt woefully short and the playing companions yell out "c'mon, Alliss!!", well, this is the guy that is based on. As a kid, I thought I was being called a girl, e.g. "Alice" along with comments on my genitalia and cross-dressing.