After an awful beginning, Fox Sports did much better on its second try with last year's U.S. Open golf coverage. Another tweak in the booth should make things even smoother this year.

Darren Clarke, who won the 2011 British Open and captained Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup, will bring his dry wit and expertise to Fox's coverage from Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

What's a major golf tournament without an Irish brogue in there, right?

Fox's first foray into the U.S. Open came in 2015 at Chambers Bay. Greg Norman was the lead analyst and quickly proved he wasn't up to the job. 

So last year at Oakmont Country Club, Fox brought in Paul Azinger to team up with Joe Buck and Brad Faxon in the 18th tower. Azinger has never been shy to tell it like it is, something Norman had a problem with. The Buck-Azinger-Faxon trio seemed to achieve a chemistry that was lacking with Norman. 

Fox also sent Curt Menefee to the bench and gave Holly Sonders, a veteran from the Golf Channel, a more prominent role. 

As much as viewers complained about Norman, others also harped about Fox's coverage from the technology side. Comparing Fox to CBS and NBC, which have done golf for 50 years, was never fair.

Fox's camera shots improved greatly from Oakmont. Another year's experience should make the telecast even more viewer friendly.

As for Joe Buck, many will never accept him as a lead golf announcer. He is too closely aligned with the NFL and MLB for some viewers. The same standard isn't held to CBS' Jim Nantz (who doubles in the NFL and college basketball) largely because he cut his broadcasting teeth doing golf.

What Fox has excelled at during its short time with the U.S. Open is wall-to-wall coverage, something the Masters should do but never will. 

Coverage starts Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on FS1 with "Wednesday at the U.S. Open." That kicks off more than 45 hours of live golf action on FS1 and the Fox broadcast network.

The opening rounds on Thursday and Friday will be shown from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on FS1 before shifting to Fox from 5 to 8 p.m.

Fox handles weekend coverage with Saturday's third round airing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday's action being shown from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

French Open: Women's, men's finals (NBC, 8 a.m. Saturday, Sunday): The master of clay, Rafael Nadal, goes for his 10th title at Roland Garros. First-time finalist Jelena Ostapenko could become the next women's star. 

Stanley Cup Final, Game 6: Penguins at Predators (NBC, 7 p.m. Sunday): Home ice has held up throughout this series, but Stanley Cup always seems to be presented to visiting team. Get ready for some heavy lifting, Sidney Crosby. 

MLB: Cubs at Mets (Comcast, 6:10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday; WAOE, 6:10 p.m. Tuesday): A couple years ago, this rivalry seemed ready to explode. However, injuries to its vaunted young pitchers have decimated New York.

Contact Jim Benson at jbenson@pantagraph.com.

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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