6:37 a.m. Troon time; 10:37 p.m. last night GGMT (Grey Goatee Mean Time)
It wasn’t like Johnny Miller didn’t warn us: The pot bunkers at Royal Troon are nasty and plentiful, and it took Colin Montgomerie two swings to find one. It took another two to get out on the way to a double-bogey on the golf course he calls his home course.
Monty’s tee shot landed safely — the 53-year-old Scot was first off in the 145th Open Championship — but his second flew into a green-front bunker, tight against its front wall. His first blast landed at his feet. He punched out sideways with his second — his only play.
Johnny Miller, you say? The 1976 Open champion at Royal Birkdale has been NBC’s top golf commentator since 1990, but he’d never covered an Open Championship, and it took NBC’s wresting of the broadcast rights from ABC/ESPN to get him in the chair in Troon.
If the lead talking head sounds the same this year as last, it’s because Mike Tirico jumped ship at ABC and joined NBC/The Golf Channel. Expect a smooth transition for this king of smooth.
The network change also brought a change in narrator for the voice-over soliloquies we can expect to hear peppered through the broadcasts. It’s hard not to miss Ian McShane, but Stephen Dillane is an acceptable substitute. Typically overwrought example: “What it was is what it is. The greatest sagas in history, linked to the hopes and dreams of the future … The Open.”
According to the crack Grey Goatee Research Group, Dillane is a Tony-winning English actor, best known to modern audiences for “Game of Thrones.” Speculation persists that golf as we know it might or might not have been invented in Westeros.