Not even thinking about it halfway through his round, Ian Woosnam, a 5-foot-4 Welshman, led the British Open after the opening 18 holes today.

Woosnam had missed the cut his last two tournaments, and his front-nine 39 today was a pace more likely to produce a hacker's 80 than the even-par 70 he eventually fashioned. "One of the things you dream about," he said.

What went through the minds of larger players with more glittering names was anything but dreamy. Greg Norman put it best for those expected to be leading this affair, and who may yet be atop the leader board by the time the final blows are struck.

To playing partner Raymond Floyd after being blown off course, if not the Ailsa Course, he said: "Have you ever in the world been humiliated like this? When you feel like a nonentity out there? Just hacking around in the rough?"

Floyd agreed that he hadn't.

And these were gentlemen who had weathered the wild conditions of round one of last month's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

In winds that gusted to 40 miles per hour and caused Ailsa's already narrow fairways to seem pencil-thin, U.S. Open champion Floyd shot 78.

So did Masters champion Jack Nicklaus.

Norman ended with 74, five shots lower than Curtis Strange and eight better than Craig Stadler.

Three usual nonentities (Gordon J. Brand, Robert Lee and Anders Forsbrand) and the fairly famous Nick Faldo were a shot behind Woosnam.

Two obscure Americans were among a cluster of a half-dozen at 2 over par that included former Masters champion Bernhard Langer of West Germany -- two who played college golf at Southern California, Ron Commans and recently turned pro Sam Randolph.

With a 75, PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman was not far off the pace in his comeback bid to win this Open after a 12-year layoff from serious golf.

"I told people Deane was a gutty competitor," longtime friend Nicklaus said. "I told them he'd do all right, that he'd do fine. He may do better than fine."

Most of the rich and famous were turning red because of the weather and their unusually high scores. The dreadful conditions, after all, were supposed to favor the players with superior ability.

Instead, it was Strange saying: "I came as close as I ever have to walking off the golf course. The only reason I didn't is because I never have. I got tired hitting the ball out of trash ."

Strange started the round as though he were about to wrestle a polar bear instead of Ailsa's nearly 7,000 yards. He had donned long underwear, two shirts and a sweater. He sometimes wore mittens between shots.

More than Stadler's ego was hurt.

He hurt his left wrist hacking hay off the 14th fairway. Fifteen minutes after posting that 82, Stadler said much of his thumb still was numb.

"Obviously, I have no chance of winning," he said, adding that he planned on trying to make the cut.

The sounds of Ailsa included one of the near-leaders (Faldo) saying "jeepers" a lot in joy; also the whimper of a woman who had been hit on the head by Gary Koch's tee ball.

Andrew P. Broadway gave his regards to this 115th Open after 10 holes. He was 18 over at the time, having taken a 10 at the seventh hole, a par 5.

Guy McQuitty didn't McQuit after a 95 forged with four 6s, a 7 and an 8. He broke 50 by a stroke on the back nine. One of his two pars was on the first hole.

Mostly, the sounds were similar to what happened immediately after Donnie Hammond, formerly of Frederick, Md., struck his tee shot on the 14th hole:

"Fore! Fore! Oooooooh."

Hammond's start had been the best of the day. He sank a midiron shot from off the fairway for an eagle 2 on the opening hole, then dunked a long birdie putt on the second. He was 7 over the next 16 holes.

Nicklaus' 78 came on an eagle-birdie finish; Seve Ballesteros needed a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole to salvage 76. Larry Mize's visor blew off his head as he was about to stroke a short putt, and he missed.

Conditions the man from the BBC called "really atrocious" before the first threesome left the first tee stayed that way throughout. One of the players they figured to bother most was the leader, Woosnam.

He has been troubled by back miseries that required treatment as late as Sunday. That may have been the reason he failed to qualify for the final rounds of his last two European tournaments. In one of them, the French Open, he shot a 16 on a par-3 hole.

"When I was 4 over after nine," he said of today's performance, "I thought 77 or 78 might be pretty good. But I kept plugging on," and he shot a 31 on the back nine that included a 12-foot putt for eagle on No. 17.

Nicklaus was irritated by missing a half-dozen fairly short putts, saying officials altered the speed of the greens after the last practice round. Ballesteros was bothered as much by the slow play of others as his own erratic play.

"Maybe one or two shots should be given to the faster players," he suggested after a 5 1/2-hour round. "Then everyone will run."

Ballesteros considered the day and had another thought:

"If there's four rounds like today, maybe 320 shots will win the tournament."