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British Open waits for rain and wind #045;#045; and Tiger #045;#045; to return

GULLANE, Scotland

-- Colin Montgomerie led a charge of Europeans toward the top of the leaderboard as a wet and slightly breezy Muirfield invited low scoring Friday in the second round of the British Open.

One day after virtually ruling himself out of another major, Montgomerie stirred up the Scottish gallery by tying the course record with a 7-under 64 that suddenly thrust him into contention.

Montgomerie was at 138 and the early clubhouse leader after two rounds at a Muirfield links that has been relatively tame without its famous wind.

''That's a good effort to go from 3 over to 4 under,'' Montgomerie said. ''I'm quite happy right now. I'm in a position where I could go forward.''

Carl Pettersson of Sweden, one of leaders after a first-round 67, Des Smyth of Ireland and Stephen Ames of Trinidad were at 5 under as they made their way around Muirfield.

Duffy Waldorf did not tee off until the afternoon, while the other leader, David Toms, got off to a shaky start by taking two shots to get out of a fairway bunker on the first hole, leading to a double bogey. The day never got better, and he finished with a 75.

Montgomerie opened with a birdie and this time, he kept it going. A 35-footer curled in the cup for eagle on the fifth, and he closed out his best score in the British Open by hitting a 4-iron into 12 feet on the last hole for his seventh birdie.

Each one produced an enormous cheer, just like last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes when he led after 36 holes. He faded badly on the weekend.

''Hopefully this year I could start with a terrible 74 and go forward,'' he said.

That was the plan for Tiger Woods.

After opening with a 70, he didn't tee off until the afternoon. At least this time, no one clicked a camera on the first tee -- and while he didn't find the fairway, he was only in the intermediate rough.

Nick Price birdied three of his first five holes to get to 6 under until giving back two shots. Ernie Els also started strongly with birdies on his first three holes to get to 4 under.

Phil Mickelson, however, found himself struggling again in a British Open, the only major where he has not seriously contended.

It took Lefty two shots to get it out of the hay on No. 1, making double bogey. Another double bogey late in his round dropped him to 6 over for the day, 3 over for the tournament.

Woods was able to sleep in and hope the rain cleared because he had an afternoon tee time to resume his chase for an unprecedented Grand Slam of major tournament wins.

With Woods struggling on the greens on Thursday, and a calm Muirfield left without one of its maiext two days,'' Woods said.

Woods managed to get it under par in his opening round, which is significant only because he has gone on to win the tournament the last seven times he opened a major championship with an under-par round.

In all, nearly a fourth of the field broke par in the first round. Those who didn't either spent too much time in the knee-high heather or struggled like Woods on greens not as fast as in the year's two previous major championships.

''It was definitely there for the taking,'' said Brad Faxon, who joined Woods at 70.

If Woods was frustrated over his putting -- he needed 34 putts for the day -- he wouldn't say. What did irritate him was a photographer who clicked his camera as Woods stood over the ball on the first tee and forced him to back off.

Woods promptly hit it 20 yards right of the fairway into the knee-high heather, where he encountered the photographers again and berated them for making noise.

Woods was muttering to himself later as he kept missing putts. Not only was he not leading in his bid for the third leg of the Grand Slam, he couldn't even beat playing partners Justin Rose and Shigeki Maruyama.

The 21-year-old Rose, who made a splash at the Open as a 17-year-old amateur, didn't allow himself to be intimidated by Woods, though he admitted it wasn't your usual threesome.

Rose and Maruyama shot 68s, and Rose had the lead by himself at the turn after an eagle on the ninth hole put him at 4 under.

''There's definitely an aura about him,'' Rose said. ''I think the first time you play with him it is a bit of an eye opener but I didn't get caught up in watching him or all that stuff that goes on around him.''

Price found some relief in the fact the 7,034-yard course wasn't lengthened like Bethpage Black was in the U.S. Open. That plays into the hands of Woods and a few other long hitters, he said, reducing the chances of anyone else to win.

Indeed, Woods won by three shots at both a recently lengthened Augusta National and at Bethpage for his first two major titles of the season.

''It kills me the way they are going with the game. When in doubt, add length,'' Price said. ''That does not make a golf course harder. All it does is eradicate 90 percent of the field.''

Woods, who pays attention to weather forecasts and already knew a storm was predicted for Friday, welcomed the change in weather.

''I've always enjoyed playing in tougher conditions, because if you play well and shoot a good solid round you're going to move up,'' Woods said. The Associated Press