Rory McIlroy's frustrations with his game continued in the opening round of the Scottish Open as he posted a two-over-par 74 to be nine shots behind leader Mikko Ilonen.
The four-time major champion declined to speak to the press afterwards after a bogey at the ninth - his final hole - stopped a spirited front nine fightback in its tracks.
McIlroy was four-over-par at the turn after a nightmare start that included two bogeys and a double-bogey in his first four holes but made three birdies in six holes in an attempt to salvage things.
His round was in stark contrast to that of playing partner and 2015 Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler, who posted a bogey-free five-under-par 67 to be tied for second alongside Callum Shinkwin, Paul Peterson, Andrew Dodt and Ian Poulter.
After watching his game up close for 18 holes though, Fowler doesn't see any issues with McIlroy and believes he'll turn his current struggles around soon.
“He didn’t make the swings he wanted to today but he did a great job of hanging in there,” said Rickie Fowler. “He’ll be fine. He’s one of the best players in the world.
“He’s in a great spot in his life away from the course and it’s been fun to build that relationship with him. I know he had a great week last week with his foundation involved in the Irish Open and I guess that he’ll bounce back.”
Speaking about his own first round, Fowler said: "Thursday is all about getting off to a good start and I did a great job of that.
"I felt like I made a couple of good putts for par to keep the round going and a clean card is always a good thing.
"So I'm happy about it and I'm looking forward to cleaning things up a little bit swing-wise and making sure that we continue to improve throughout the week and get ourselves in contention here and ready for next week."
Ilonen, meanwhile, posted his lowest score in 35 career rounds at the tournament to charge two clear in what he called his 'round of the season' with new Titleist 718 irons the bag.
"It's nice to get something going and make a few birdies and no mistakes on the card," said the Finn. "I changed my irons on Tuesday to 718s and they've given me a little bit of extra confidence.
"I missed one shot on the eighth but other than that, I struck the ball better than I have for probably the last two or three years."