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July 16, 2010 11:55 AM

Good Day for a Sick Day, Golf ... and ESPN?

a pub.jpgThe first groups just teed off for the second round of the Open Championship and there are signs The Old Course and her buddy, Mother Nature, are not going to be quite so accommodating today. Despite that, some dude named Louis Oosthuizen from Mars, South Africa, has just got it to 11-under ...

But listen up, sports fans: Before you head out the door to do whatever it is that pays your cable bill, we'll offer you the best advice you'll get all weekend: Call out sick.

My God, people, ESPN is showing 11 straight hours of golf from the place the game was born. If you live in the vicinity of the East Coast, you can scramble some eggs, brew a pot, and settle into the couch with your striped pajamas on, and watch the world's greatest game.

When the final shots are struck at 3 p.m., or so, you can grab a nap (bonus points if you also grab your honey), then rise, shine, shower up, and visit an establishment like The Grill Room for a pint or two to round out the perfect Friday.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, simply rinse and repeat.

OK, now that that's settled, here's what we liked best and least from Thursday's first-round action:


WHAT WE LIKED BEST:

ESPN's coverage ...

If you are a regular to The Grill Room, you know that we credit ESPN as often as John Boehner sends Barack Obama roses.

But, hey, some credit where credit is due.

In addition to keeping Chris Berman as far from Scotland as possible, the sports entertainment station has stocked its lineup with a big, fat team of all-star analysts to call its unprecedented 93 hours (seriously) of live golf. My gosh, I even heard good, ol' Tom Weiskopf behind the mic on Thursday.

When you have the greatest of all time, Peter Alliss, painting a purist's picture, along with a guy who could become the greatest of all time if he just did it more, Paul Azinger, giving some honest, inside perspective, there is little not to like about this coverage.

Well, OK, Curtis Strange is still completely awful, and offers nothing original. And please, Curtis, work on the 1864 General Lee dialect will ya? As in, "fahv-ahrn" (five-iron) and "nahn-ahrn" (nine-iron).

And Scott Van Pelt renders any good observations he might come across moot thanks to that ridiculous "Captain Serious" look he works so hard to throw together. Really, dude, are we to believe that when you look in the mirror, that is really how you want to present in front of the camera?! Somebody please get this guy a part in a "Spider Man" movie or something.

But Van Pelt and Strange are the exceptions to a team that also includes the most underrated on-course talker ever, Judy Rankin, top-five sports announcer, Sean McDonough, and the rock-solid Andy North.

And if Rocco Mediate flops, it will be the greatest upset of all time. The guy is a natural.

Finally, it's also hard to type a bad thing about Mike Tirico. The guy is as smooth as the butter you are now pouring over your pancakes.

Somehow, though, I just don't see him standing over a golf ball with a driver and doing anything other than gouging it about 137 yards and dead right.

Ah, well ... Good stuff, ESPN. Who says we don't grudgingly call 'em as we see 'em?

WHAT WE LIKED LEAST:

The Weather ...

It was said approximately 73 times by ESPN's 22 announcers, and we'll confirm, The Old Course's only defense is the wind. It was unbelievably calm Thursday, and the course played as easy as it possibly can. As the Scots say, "If it's nay wind, and nay rain ... it's nay golf."

Let's hope for some Scottish golf today, and the rest of the weekend. Only then, will St. Andrews sort out the contenders from the pretenders and choose a worthy winner.

UPDATE: 9:51. EST: Well, no more "nay wind." Play has actually been stopped because of the feisty breezes, and get this: The players are being taken to evacuation spots. Seriously. It's a glorious day, the sun is out, the wind is blowing, but the poor, poor players are being spared these horrible, horrible elements.

I love the game, but not the way the pros are primped and coddled these days. If they aren't going to make 'em play, at least make 'em wait by their golf balls. Evacuation spots?!

Good grief.      

WHAT WE LIKED LEAST: THE WEATHER, PART II

The big deal made about being on the right- and wrong-half of the draw ...

To hear the 22 announcers we mostly liked groan about it, you'd think Mickelson and the late starters Thursday dealt with Katrina out there. No, the conditions in the afternoon were not as favorable as they were in the morning. And by favorable, I mean freakishly calm.

A bit of wind and a spot of rain came up late in the day, yes, but any Scot worth his bagpipe would tell you the course was eminently playable all day. Lee Westwood carved out an easy 67 in the 'awful' conditions late in the day.

But let's not let the truth get in the way of a ridiculous storyline.

UPDATE: 9:58 EST: The leader, Oosthuizen, was also on the wrong half of the draw. See? Just because they say it, doesn't make it so.

WHAT WE LIKED LEAST: THE WEATHER, PART III

Phil Mickelson ...

It blows my mind (pardon the pun) that the guy either can't, or more likely, simply won't, play the bump-and-run shot around the massive greens at The Old Course. If you are going to keep hoisting wedges into the air, Phil, I wonder why you bother even showing up for these Opens. You are way to good for this silly behavior.

OK, go pour yourself another cup, and don't forget about that nap later on.

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