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Weather taking its toll at British Open

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Now, this is more like the British Open.

Cold rain, then high winds returned to the coast of the Irish Sea today, making life difficult for Tiger Woods and others in the second round at Royal Birkdale.As the weather took a turn for the worse, so did the games of many of the first-round leaders, who faltered on the suddenly testy seaside links.

Woods, who began the day with a share of the lead at 5-under 65, bogeyed three of his first six holes, while first-round co-leader John Huston was 4 over after 10 holes.

Nick Price, playing with Woods, dropped a shot to par after seven holes and was tied for the lead at 3 under with Japanese tour player Brian Watts.

But the low round of the day belonged to 17-year-old English amateur Justin Rose, who shot a 66 and suddenly found himself in contention at 2-under 138.

Woods quickly gave back his share of the lead, hitting into a bunker to bogey the first hole and three-putting the second hole for another bogey. He then missed the green on the par-4 sixth hole and ended up with yet another bogey.

Woods wasn't the only one having problems. John Daly took a 10 on the 18th hole for a 78, while Tom Lehman did even worse, shooting a 79. Both were virtually certain to miss the cut.

Defending champion Justin Leonard was at 6 over after two rounds. If he were to miss the cut, too, the last three Open champions would all have been eliminated from weekend play.

It was that kind of a day at Birkdale, which was tame a day earlier when 41 players equaled or broke par in a first round played in light winds and warm sun.

Fred Couples, after starting the round a stroke behind Woods and Huston, faltered and needed a birdie on the 18th to finish 4 over for the day and even for the tournament. Loren Roberts began the day tied with Couples and finished with a 76, while Davis Love III shot 73.

The leaderboard did contain one surprise. Watts, an American who plays on the Japanese PGA Tour and has missed the cut in three of his previous five Opens, shot a 1-under 69 to go with the 68 he had Thursday.

"I'm really not thinking about winning the golf tournament," Watts said.

Among the early finishers today were Masters champion Mark O'Meara, who shot a 68 to get to even par, and David Duval, who had a 71 and was 1 over.

"All day it was hard," Duval said. "I made some good saves, like everybody is doing. You have to right now."

The weather forced players and fans to bundle up - Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal wore a wool hat pulled down low over his ears.

The wind cleared away the rain clouds and picked up strength as the day went on, sending wayward shots into the deep meadow rye lining the fairways and greens.

The conditions were in stark contrast to the opening round, when light breezes and warm weather greeted golfers expecting the normal wind and rain on the northwest coast of England.

One player who won't have to deal with the tough conditions is 1995 PGA champion Steve Elkington. The Australian withdrew from the Open today because of a pinched nerve in his neck. He shot a 5-over 75 on Thursday.