Thursday, 13 July 2017
Mikko Ilonen  (European Tour)
Mikko Ilonen (European Tour)

Mikko Ilonen rediscovered his form in stunning fashion to fire an opening 65 and take a two-shot lead after day one of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

The Finn arrived at Dundonald Links for the fourth event of the Rolex Series off the back of four missed cuts and with just four sub-70 rounds all season.

He is a five-time winner on the European Tour, though - with one of those victories coming on links at the 2014 Irish Open - and he showed all his class on the Ayrshire coast to get to seven under and make an excellent start in the hunt for a share of the seven million dollar prize fund.

World Number ten Rickie Fowler was then in a group of six players at five under alongside fellow American Paul Peterson, three-time Major Championship winner Padraig Harrington, English duo Ian Poulter and Callum Shinkwin, and Australian Andrew Dodt.

Starting from the tenth, Ilonen birdied the 14th and 15th to turn in 34 before five birdies in six holes catapulted him up the leaderboard. A hat-trick of gains from the first had him in a share of the lead before he took advantage of the par five fifth and put his approach to tap-in range on the next to move clear.

"65 is the round of the season, really," said Ilonen, who beat his previous best 2017 effort by three shots. "I'm not going to say it's been the whole season that's been pretty bad but certainly a good part of it has been pretty slow out there. It's nice to get something going and make a few birdies and no mistakes on the card.

"I do need to put some rounds together. I've got to start from a couple of holes, nine holes and now 18 holes and I've just got to continue from there. I haven't been able to put two rounds together, so it's a long way to get four rounds together.

"I've played links golf when I was a kid, as an amateur we played and I won the Amateur back in the day. There's some experience in there.



Mikko Ilonen reflects on his round of the season as he takes a two-shot lead into day two of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links.

"I actually changed my irons on Tuesday. So new irons in the bag, 718s. It can be just little things that gives you a little extra confidence."

Poulter started on the tenth and a birdie on the 13th was followed by an eagle on the par five next as he jumped into a share of the early lead before bogeying the 15th and 16th.

The 12-time European Tour winner then really came to life on the front nine, holing a lengthy right-to-lefter on the second, taking advantage of the par five third, getting his tee-shot in tight on the sixth and holing another lengthy putt on the eighth.

Fowler - the 2015 champion - also started on the tenth and birdied the 13th and 14th before a run of six pars was followed by a hat-trick of gains from the third.

Harrington turned in 32 with birdies on the first, third, fifth and eighth but made two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine as the weather began to close in. That was no problem for the two-time Open champion, though, and he birdied the 17th.

Shinkwin had a roller coaster of a front nine with four birdies and two bogeys as he turned in 34 but he took advantage of the par fives on the way in, birdieing the 14th and putting his approach to six feet to set up a closing eagle.

Dodt had been in contention at the first Rolex Series event at the BMW PGA Championship and birdies on the fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth, 13th and 14th had him at the top of the leaderboard. A pair of bogeys then stalled his momentum but a closing birdie put him back in the lead.

Home duo Stephen Gallacher and Richie Ramsay, Swede Magnus A Carlsson, Ireland's Paul Dunne, Frenchman Benjamin Hebert and America's Matt Kuchar were all at four under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1CABRERA BELLO, RafaESP18-13
T1SHINKWIN, CallumENG18-13
3PAVON, MatthieuFRA18-10
T4HARRINGTON, PadraigIRL18-8
T4KUCHAR, MattUSA18-8
T4WALL, AnthonyENG18-8

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