DEFENDING champion Nick Faldo tied a British Open record with a second-round 63 and took the lead early today in the 122nd edition of golf's oldest championship at Sandwich. Faldo's seven-under-par romp through the winds at Royal St George's gave him a 36-hole total of 132, eight-under-par. The 63, spiced by a 30-metre chip-in on the 14th hole and capped by an 4.5-metre putt on the final hole, tied the single-round scoring record set by Mark Hayes in 1977 and later tied by Greg Norman and others. It also broke the record of 64, set by Christy O'Connor Jrn of Ireland in 1985, on the Royal St George's links that is reputed to be the most difficult of all the British Open venues. Earlier, Bernhard Langer produced a masterful display of shot-making to move clear of the field. Langer, bidding to add the Open crown to the US Masters title he won at Augusta in April, coped admirably with the swirling winds to tour the layout in four-under-par 66. That gave the steely German, winner of the 1992 Hongkong Open, a 36-hole aggregate of 133, seven under the card and second place. With most of the field having completed their second rounds, American Fred Couples was in sole possession of third place on 134 after a 66. American Fuzzy Zoeller was the first of the overnight leaders to complete his second round and a level-par 70 left him on four under par. Another pacesetter, Australian Peter Senior added a one-under 69 to his opening 66 to lie on 135, five under. Spaniard Seve Ballesteros, with three Open titles to his credit, fell away from his opening 68 to a 73 after missing a number of short putts. He missed four putts of under six feet. ''I didn't strike the ball as well as yesterday but the putting was definitely the difference,'' he said. Jack Nicklaus, the 53-year-old American who has won the Open three times, looked likely to miss the cut for the second successive year for only the third time in his career. His second round 75 left him four over par on 144, 11 shots behind Langer. Fellow-American John Cook, second to Faldo at Muirfield last year, carded a 72 for a five-over-par total of 145 and looked unlikely to make the halfway cut. Others on that figure and unlikely to survive included Americans Ben Crenshaw after a 75 and Jeff Maggert after a 73. Jim Gallagher, who won the Anhauser-Busch Classic in Virginia last Sunday and who is a possible Ryder Cup player this year, will also return home early after a 74 for 147. Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain took a disastrous triple-bogey eight at the long 14th when he drove out of bounds. He shot 74 and he, too, will not be playing at the weekend. One shot off the pace after an opening 67, Langer was fast out of the blocks yesterday making birdies at the first, seventh and eighth, where he struck a three-iron approach from 210 yards to within three inches of the cup. Further birdies followed at the par-three 11th and the par-five 14th with his only blemish coming at the last where he pulled his approach into the gallery lining the fairway. His ball ricocheted off a spectator's shoulder back into play from where he pitched to 25 feet and missed the putt. Said Langer: ''It was windy all the way and it came up more towards the end of my round. It is hard to make the right judgment with club selection in the conditions.'' Couples had needed pars at the final two holes for a round of 64 but, like Ballesteros on the opening day, dropped strokes at both. Nevertheless, the 1992 US Masters winner was justifiably pleased. ''I'm thrilled to death to be at six-under,'' said Couples, who admitted he was also a little surprised. ''I didn't feel great about my chances coming into the tournament, but I've practised real hard for the last three days.''