Big names threaten Noren's defence of Scottish Open

Lydia Ko Michelle Wie and others will battle for a major title in New Jersey

"I tried to push a little too much and tried to make things happen too much at Augusta, and that definitely helped me at Erin Hills", Fowler said.

Stenson, now ranked seventh in the world, missed the cut at the recent US Open but bounced back to form a week later in Munich, finishing 10th in the defence of his BMW International Open title.

The fire is back in those eyes and how can he not feel inspired when, along with is wife and four children, he is staying in a hotel overlooking Prestwick Golf Club, the links where the first Open Championship was played 167 years ago?

Six players are tied for second at five under, with 2015 champion Rickie Fowler clearly unaffected by his U.S. Open final-round collapse, the American two back after a 67.

That came in the midst of three straight birdies on his back nine as Fowler outplayed his partners Rory McIlroy (74) and Henrik Stenson (72) in the marquee group, continuing his consistent form this year. And again, it's just putting it all together, not just for one day but for four days and to do it week-in and week-out. Ilonen, an afternoon starter, was giving his post-round interviews just as rain began to fall for the first time in an opening round that featured a sometimes-fierce breeze off the Ayrshire coast in western Scotland.

He had seven birdies in all five of them coming in six holes from Nos.

Harrington, 45, moved to nine under par after a second-round 68, level with Callum Shinkwin and Alexander Knappe.

He was back pedalling early in bogeying his second and third holes before landing his second short at the 13th or his fourth hole short, and only to see the ball roll back into a burn for a double.

It is the first time McIlroy is playing the event since 2014 when he shot a new course record 64 at Royal Aberdeen en route to sharing 14th place before then heading to Royal Liverpool and brilliantly claiming the Open Championship.

And while McIlroy was not approached after his round, Fowler was full of confidence the four-time Major victor will turn around what is now three scores in succession where he has failed to break par.

McIlroy said he would be heading to Birkdale early to get in some practice rounds on one of the hardest courses on the Open rotation.

A birdie followed but he dropped another shot at the par-five 18th.

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