A rare afternoon thunderstorm halted practice for the British Open and sent fans scurrying for cover.
'Have you ever seen lightning in England?' Brad Faxon asked.
It didn't rain long enough to soften the rock-hard links -- 'I can spit more than that,' Niclas Fasth quipped -- but a shift in the wind left players scrambling to adjust their shots.
'I've always liked to practice in calm conditions. It's not such a fright,' defending champion Ernie Els said, grinning. 'I'm sure the wind is going to blow 25 miles an hour.'
Just after sundown, another line of showers gave the course a more significant dousing, but the players weren't counting on much relief.
Asked how much rain would change the course, Faxon replied, 'About three days straight.'
Defending British Open champion Ernie Els had some extra help as he finished up a practice round.
His 4-year-old daughter, Samantha, joined the Big Easy for the final two holes, bounding down the fairways barefooted.
'She was becoming bored at the house,' Els said. 'I wanted her to come out and see what it's like.'
If Kenny Perry seems to play a little faster than usual this week, he has a reason.
Perry's caddie is friend Billy Glidden, a drag racer from Whiteland, Ind. Perry and Glidden met a few years ago and hit it off, and he invited Glidden to come with him to England, where Perry is playing in his first British Open in 12 years.
'He's like a brother to me,' Perry said.
Glidden, the son of drag racing icon Bob Glidden, said he has exchanged lessons with Perry. Glidden taught Perry how to drive in drag races, and Perry cut Glidden's 30 handicap with just one lesson.
On Wednesday, Glidden was pacing off yardages and retrieving balls during Perry's practice rounds like he had done it all his life.
He's not awed by the experience, but appreciative of his friendship with Perry, who has won three of his last four tournaments.
'Until he gets on a streak like this, no one knows that Kenny Perry does anything but be a person like the rest of us,' Glidden said. 'He's very real.'
NO DRUGS HERE
Golf doesn't have a drug problem and is unlikely to accept global anti-doping rules anytime soon, Royal & Ancient Secretary Peter Dawson said Wednesday.
Dawson said the rule-making organization is willing to discuss mandatory drug testing but believes the issue would face significant opposition.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is pressing all sports to fall in line with a global code setting out uniform drug-testing rules and sanctions.
'I think it would take a long time,' Dawson said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'I think there are a large number of people in golf -- and I can understand this -- who would say that there is no evidence of drug taking in golf, there's no evidence that drug taking can help you in golf, what's the problem, what on earth are you thinking about?'
While golf isn't played in the Olympics, WADA is trying to get all sports to accept a universal code, which includes no-notice testing and two-year bans for serious violations.
Dawson said there's no need to test golfers for drugs, though Greg Norman called for mandatory checks and Nick Price has warned that steroids could be tempting for players looking to keep up with ever-lengthening courses.
'I'm personally pretty convinced that there's none of it going on,' Dawson said. 'I've never seen any sign of it.'
Acting on instructions from the national sports ministry, the French Golf Federation tested six players at the French Open last month. The results have not yet been announced.
What would happen to the tournament result if there were a positive test?
'You can't change a result in golf once a result has been declared under the rules,' Dawson said. 'What do you do when you get a dope result a week later?'
Bernhard Langer and caddie Pete Coleman, who have been together for 22 years, will part ways after the British Open.
The 62-year-old Englishman will carry the clubs for Lee Westwood after deciding that Langer's schedule, with frequent long trips to the United States, had become too demanding.
'Basically, he wants to be mostly in America and I don't want to be stationed there,' Coleman told The Guardian, a British newspaper. 'I don't want to have to work a couple of weeks in the States and then hang around on my own in some motel waiting for him come out and play in another couple of weeks.'
Coleman said the two will remain friends.
'There's no animosity,' the caddie said. 'And, in fact, we're both a bit sad about the situation. But his circumstances have changed and I've got my life to lead. We've had some really good times together but I wanted something more stable. I don't want at my age to be jumping on trans-Atlantic planes all the time.'
Tiger Woods remained a solid favorite with the British bookmakers to win the Open, but money was pouring in for defending champion Ernie Els.
Woods, winner of eight majors including the 2000 Open at St. Andrews, was a 3-1 pick by Ladbrokes.
The odds on Els repeating last year's victory at Muirfield were cut from 8-1 to 7-1 after a series of big bets and his five-stroke Scottish Open triumph last weekend.
Canada's Mike Weir, who won the Masters, was a 16-1 wager. U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk was 20-1.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.