RORY McIlroy faces the prospect of heading into next week’s Open Championship on the back of a third missed cut in four events after getting off to a poor start in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

McIlroy was hoping that memories of his last appearance in the event would kickstart his injury-hit season, the world No 4 finishing 14th at Royal Aberdeen in 2014 before going on to win the Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA in his next three starts.

But despite enjoying the best of the conditions, the 28-year-old could only card a two-over-par 74 at Dundonald Links to end the day nine shots behind Finland’s Mikko Ilonen.

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McIlroy followed a missed cut in the US Open with a tie for 17th in the Travelers Championship, but then made an early exit from the Irish Open at Portstewart, where he was the defending champion.

The four-time major winner has not missed successive cuts since May 2015, but recent work on his wedge game failed to reap dividends as he followed bogeys on the 11th and 12th – his second and third holes of the day – by dumping his approach to the 13th into the burn which guards the front of the green.

The resulting double bogey was at least followed by a first birdie of the day on the par-five 14th, but another bogey on the 18th – where he pitched into a greenside bunker – took McIlroy to the turn in 40.

Birdies on the third, fifth and seventh repaired most of the damage, only for a bogey on the ninth to leave McIlroy at the wrong end of the leaderboard in the £5.4 million event.

Ilonen has missed the cut in his last four events, but a new set of irons helped the five-time European Tour winner card seven birdies in a bogey-free 65 to lead by two shots from Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington, Paul Peterson, Callum Shinkwin and Andrew Dodt.

“I wasn’t imagining shooting 65,” Ilonen said. “I thought anything in the 60s would be a great round. Given my recent form, I think red numbers (under par) really, but seven under is a good start.”

Playing alongside McIlroy, 2015 champion Fowler carded five birdies in a bogey-free 67 as he maintained the form which has produced a win and five other top-10s this season.

“It’s a lot of fun to be back here at the Scottish Open,” Fowler said. “It was unfortunate I had to miss it last year with the schedule and the Olympics being part of the summer, but I’m excited to be back.”

Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher led the home challenge on four under, with Gallacher trying to emulate Ramsay and fellow Scot David Drysdale’s achievement in Ireland last week by claiming one of the three places available at Royal Birkdale via the Open qualifying series.

“The goal for the last three weeks has been to make it to Birkdale and this is my last chance,” Gallacher said. “It’s a great start and something to build on for the rest of the week.”