Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
The first hole at The Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England.
Golf: The 152nd British Open, Thursday through Sunday, 4 a.m., ESPN:
With Wimbledon finished, and the London Olympics coming up, a holiday at The Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England seems like as good a place as any to continue the tea party, as long as there’s a giant clock tower nearby to let us know when it’s time to wrap it up. It all starts here with a par 3 — the only one of this ilk in the British Open rotation (see the course layout at TheOpen.com). A tricky 205-yarder from the blue tees (169 from the orange, but that’s not really important here), with a tee box surrounded by trees, wind tough to gauge and a green surrounded by a horseshoe of seven bunkers. “I think any time a player doesn’t have to hit a driver at an Open Championship on his first swing makes it a little bit easier for him,” said ESPN’s Andy North. “But at the same time, you still have to hit a quality shot with an iron, and it’s a difficult opening shot because the tee is tucked back into some trees where you don’t feel the wind, and yet it can be blowing pretty hard up at the green.” Adds ESPN’s Curtis Strange, when he played this hole: “I was anxious because it was a good par 3. It plays downwind those first six or seven or eight holes, so my concern was picking the proper club, having to hit the ground and then having it run out properly. Just the anxiousness of having that as your first starting shot was enough for me.”
When Ian Woosnam (right) came to this hole in the final round of the 2001 British Open, he was tied for the lead. He then teed off with 15 clubs in his bag. The max allowed is 14. Whooops. On the second tee, Woosnam’s caddie informed him that he had two drivers — but he didn’t catch it on the first hole, possibly because there was no need for a driver, and he had been experimenting with two drivers on the practice tee. “My caddie said, ‘I think you’re going to go ballistic,'” Woosnam recalls. “I think I did go ballistic.” Woosnam called a two-stroke penalty on himself, and it would have cost him two more shots had he teed off on No. 2. He finished third, four shots back of eventual winner David Duval. What else makes this course a little off kilter? Three par 3s on the front nine, a par 70 overall, and the only championship course surrounded by homes on three sides. Bobby Jones won the Open here, as did Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros (twice) and Tom Lehman, who figured out it’s all about accuracy and strategy. It all ends with a 413-yard par 4, where you’re into the wind and need to avoid a lot of sand. Do well, and the Claret Jug is yours. Darren Clarke is up for defending his title, won last year at Royal St. George’s, and Tiger Woods (6-1) goes in as the betting favorite while U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson was given 40-1 odds to go back-to-back in the majors, but it’ll be much higher — he’s not going to play, staying at home instead to await the birth of his child. Besides, he’s been replaced by Woods at the No. 1 at-the-moment golfer in the world according to the experts at SI.com (linked here). Sunday’s final round (5-to-10:30 a.m., ESPN) is replayed in a three-hour block (noon to 3 p.m., Channel 7).
MLB: Dodgers vs. Philadelphia, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
The Phillies’ miserable first half is magnified by the fact that 35-year-old former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay (4-5, 3.98) was less than average before he went on the DL with a bad shoulder. He’s supposed to be coming out for the first time since May 27 to throw against the Dodgers on Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9). The Phillies have had Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return, but center fielder Shane Victorino, the subject of trade rumors, is hitting .152 in July. This series ends with a day under the sun on Wednesday (12:10 p.m., Prime) where Clayton Kershaw faces off against Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.92), as Cole Hamels misses facing the Dodgers this trip.
MLB: Angels at Detroit, 4:05 p.m., FSW:
The odds of the Angels missing Tigers ace Justin Verlander in a four-game series: Even, at this point. Odds of the Tigers missing Angels ace Jered Weaver in the same series: Even as well. Both AL All Stars pitched Sunday, so the matchup to watch could be the heart of each team’s lineup: The Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder punch has created 35 homers and 137 RBI in 89 games. The Angels’ Albert Pujols-Mark Trumbo counter-punch has put up 38 homers and 114 RBIs in 88 games. The series continues Tuesday and Wednesday (4:05 p.m., FSW) before a Thursday early departure (10:05 a.m., FSW).
MLB: San Francisco at Atlanta, 4:10 p.m., MLB Network:
A giant series for the Dodgers to pay attention to. A Giant concern for a San Francisco team making a trip away from home.
Horse racing: Del Mar opener, first post: 2 p.m.:
Photo by Angela Carone / KPBS
The annual trip down San Diego way, where the party meets the ponies, starts with the traditional “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest,” one that could stop male spectators in their tracks on the way to the wager window. It’s followed by a 75th anniversary celebration on Saturday. Before the meet ends on Sept. 5, there’s the Pacific Classic on Aug. 26.
MLB: N.Y. Mets at Washington, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Worth taking a look at the Mets before they start a three-game series at home against the Dodgers.
MLS: Galaxy at Vancouver, 7 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
The Whitecaps FC were reduced to ripples when the Galaxy took a 3-0 win against them last month in Carson. But in Vancouver, the ‘Caps are 5-1-3.
MLB: Chicago White Sox at Boston, 4 p.m., MLB Network:
The end of a four-game series at Fenway Park where Kevin Youkilis tries to remember which sox to put on.
MLB: Angels vs. Texas, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
The one loss pinned on Jered Weaver’s 11-1 mark so far this season: He gave up eight earned runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings at Texas in a 13-6 loss back on May 13. He’s on schedule to start this series for the Angels, with Yu Darvish rotating in for Texas on Saturday (1:05 p.m., Channel 11), before it ends Sunday (5 p.m,. ESPN). The Rangers and Angels have split six games so far, and these three funnel into a four-game set back in Arlington, Tex., at the end of this month and the start of August. The six meetings between Sept. 18-30 possibly make the difference in the AL West standings and wild-card implications.
MLB: Dodgers at N.Y. Mets, 4:10 p.m., Prime:
Johan Santana’s no-hitter for the Mets was about six weeks ago. Is he still living off that? He’s set to start this three-game set against the Dodgers that continues with 10:10 a.m. games on Saturday (Channel 9) and Sunday (Prime).
MLS: Chivas at Galaxy, Home Depot Center, 7 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
Ancient record books show the Galaxy has won 16 of the previous 26 Classico clashes. But of the four Chivas has pulled together, one was 1-0 back on May 19 — their first against the Galaxy since 2007. Nineteen-year-old striker Juan Agudelo and defender Danny Califf played in their first game, decided on Jose Correa’s penalty kick in the 71st minute after David Junior Lopes was called for a handball trying to block a shot on the line. The Galaxy started the match without David Beckham and Edson Buddle benched by coach Bruce Arena, and Robbie Keane down with a hamstring injury. Beckham and Chad Barrett were inserted into the game after the Chivas goal, but that’s when Califf made his mark, deflecting a pass Beckham intended for a quick Barrett strike in the 81st minute.
Golf: American Century Championship from South Lake Tahoe, Nev., second round, noon, Channel 4:
It starts Friday (1 p.m., NBC Sports Network) and ends Sunday (noon, Channel 4). But this is the day, if you’re so inclined, to see the celebs of this event try to show their golf skills at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, but really know they have no chance to catch the likes of Jack Wagner, Tony Romo, Mark Rypien, Billy Joe Tolliver or Rick Rhoden. The field includes Charles Barkley (left, listed at 500-1 by Harrahs to win it), Michael Jordan, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Romano, John Elway, Urban Meyer, Denny Hamlin, Alex Smith, Jerry Rice, Oscar De La Hoya and Gary Sheffield. More info: TahoeCelebrityGolf.com.
Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 10:30 a.m., MLB Network:
Nothing against former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, who will be there when he gets inducted into Cooperstown. But hold your applause and click your heels for Ron Santo, who won’t be around to hear it. Vicki Santo will accept the honor on behalf of her husband, the former Chicago Cubs third baseman who died after a long bout with diabetes in Dec., 2010 — a year before the Veterans’ Committee decided he deserved to be in. Cubs Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ernie Banks will be there, along with former Santo teammates Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger. “A lot of people say that they wish this had happened sooner when he was still living, but shucks, I am proud that he was able to get in even now,” Hundley told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know if he could have handled this (emotionally) if he had been living.” Larkin and Santo bring the count to 297 Hall of Fame members, 65 of whom are living.
Cycling: Tour de France, 20th and final stage, 5 a.m., NBC Sports Network (10 a.m., Channel 4, replay):
The 99th Tour comes to an end at the usual spot: Paris Champs-Elysees. Near the Lance Armstrong statue. With Britain’s Bradley Wiggins in position to win it. As long as some knucklehead doesn’t throw tacks across the street.