He laughed and joked with Fowler and the other member of their group, Henrik Stenson, on the tee and walking down the fairways, but McIlroy couldn't hide his disappointment after poor shots on and around the green.
The four-time major victor had not missed successive cuts since May 2015 and was inside the projected cut after covering the front nine in 33, but needed two attempts to escape a greenside bunker on the 13th to double-bogey the par four for the second day running.
McIlroy, who also missed the cut while hosting last week's Irish Open, shot a one-under-par 71 in the second round but it wasn't enough to erase the damage done by an opening 74. Of the golfers now in the top 10, only Matt Kuchar, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter are in his class. It is the third straight Rolex Series event offering a $7 million prize fund. Phil Mickelson is not playing the Scottish Open for the first time since 2009. The victor will receive over $1 million. The Scottish Open is the European Tour's final tuneup for The Open Championship. The tournament disappeared from the schedule after 1973 but it was re-established in the 1980s.
Throw in the likes of Matt Kuchar, Bernd Wiesberger, Jason Dufner, Stuart Cink and Ian Poulter, and you have a field to appeal to any golf fan. Fowler has contended at both previous majors and has seven top-10 finishes this season.
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With the Open on the horizon, the eyes of the golfing world are already turning to Britain and this week's Scottish Open is the now annual warm-up to the main event.
Scott is well versed in the history and the intricacies of the links game.
The weather forecast looks a little mixed and it could be rainy over the weekend.
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Fowler's genius is his creativity and short game skills, something much needed around this layout. Excited to be back, like you said, having won here in 2015 at Gullane. He was in a six-way tie for second place, two shots behind Mikko Ilonen. Links golf is probably my favorite.
Alex Noren - The defending champion has been on good form in recent weeks.
Key hole: 18th. It's a testing par-5 of 560 yards.
He climbed out of bed the morning of the second round, peeked outside and soon discovered that Birkdale had rolled its shoulders and stirred awake, too - the wind was whipping, the rain fell sideways and the temperature was no more than 45 degrees... But the presence of the four big names shadowing the leading trio will give Harrington most cause for concern.
George Bennett climbs into ninth, Chris Froome loses Tour de France lead
Quintana and Kwiatkowski soon joined forces with Barguil and the trio crested the summit within touching distance of the leaders. Bardet may have started the race with an unimpressive 63rd place in the ITT, but soon jumped to 7th overall after Stage 5.
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