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Jul 17, 2015 | 03:21 PM

Flights of Fancy

One of the coolest things about watching The Open Championship is ESPN's use of Protracer technology. Without any trees on the course, it would be next to impossible to follow the flight of the ball against the pewter skies that hover over the Old Course. For the ribbons of blue we have the long, dark Swedish winters to thank. Protracer founder Daniel Forsgren had recently taken up the game and became addicted, but the only way to satisfy his urge in Stockholm during the winter was by watching the pro tours on TV. He was frustated, however, by the fact that it was difficult to follow the flight of the ball, so the software engineer developed a image-based program (as opposed to radar) in 2006 to track the a ball's flight in a camera feed. The replay-graphic debuted the following April at a European Tour event and in the U.S. at the 2008 Masters. But it was ESPN that became the first network to use it in live shots five years ago at The Open Championship at the Old Course, albeit on one camera. Today, every network uses it on half-a-dozen cameras or more to enhance the production. Sure makes watching golf a lot more fun.

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Jul 16, 2015 | 06:43 AM

Telly Tee Times

If you’re reading this, you’ve already missed some of the first round of the Open Championship on television, live from the Old Course at St. Andrews. All four rounds are being broadcast on ESPN, but given the time difference between our shores and Scotland, coverage begins very early—and even then, programming doesn’t begin until about 2-1/2 hours after the first players tee off each morning. Here are the times:

Thursday, July 16: 4 a.m.-3 p.m.

Friday, July 17: 4 a.m.-3 p.m.

Saturday, July 18: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 19: 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Remember, all times are Eastern, so if you’re on the West Coast, our advice is stay up all night and sleep during the day. Your boss will understand. And for a full list of pairings on the first two days, check out the official Open Championship website.

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Jul 15, 2015 | 01:57 PM

Final Announcements

Tom Watson and Nick Faldo aren't the only ones who chose the Old Course and St. Andrews to end a long and illustrious career at the Open Championship. After 41 consecutive starts, 1st tee announcer Ivor Robson, known for his distinctive singsong delivery, is calling it quits, too. Hard to believe, but he never missed a championship or starting time, dating back to 1975 at Carnoustie. "I feel you can’t go on forever and if you’re going to step off there’s no better place to do it than here,” said the Scot, who will spend about 10 hours tomorrow sending off 156 players without a bathroom break, causing David Feherty to once quip that he must have a bladder the size of Wyoming. “It’s time to go.” Robson has other duties on the 1st tee, as well, checking the circumference of each ball and the number of clubs in each bag. (During the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, he saved Ignacio Garrido a two-shot penalty when he discovered the Spaniard had an extra club in his bag.) He considers all the players his friends and they him. It's doubtful the next announcer will get tour players to imitate him (or her) like they do of Robson in the amusing ESPN video above.

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Jul 14, 2015 | 09:42 AM

BRITISH HUMOR

The R&A, generally not known for its madcap sense of humor, clearly had some fun with the pairings at St. Andrews this week. 

Consider the following:
Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Hideki Matsuyama (4:33 a.m. EST Thursday) It’s unlikely DJ likely will see the humor in this one. 
Jason Dufner, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and John Daly (7:50) Just watching these three characters amble the fairways will be entertaining. 
Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis, and David Duval (5:17) Three Open Champions who are forgotten but not gone. 
Harris English, Ashley Chesters, and Andy Sillivan (10:07) An English and two Englishmen. 
Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer, and Jimmy Walker (9:12)  The under-the-radar gang. 
Jason Day, Tiger Woods, and Louis Oosthuizen (4:55)  If Day’s vertigo returns, he’ll have the winners of the last three St. Andrews Opens to guide him around.

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