The world No 4, who missed the cut in last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart, spent around an hour on his own hitting short putts with two different putters.
McIlroy has really struggled in that department this season, trying out a TaylorMade Spider model in the US Open at Erin Hills last month but soon ditching it. He used three different putters during the following week in the Travelers Championship and looked to have found the answer as he closed with a 64 at TP River Highlands in Connecticut.
However, the four-time winner was back to being frustrated on the greens last week and is still searching for a solution heading into this week’s event and, of course, the Open at Royal Birkdale next week.
Others getting down to business early on the Ayrshire coast included Rickie Fowler, the 2015 winner at Gullane, and former US PGA champion Jason Dufner, who is making his debut in the Rolex Series event.
As Martin Laird, making his return after missing out at Castle Stuart a year ago, started his preparation by playing nine holes, the Scottish contingent swelled to 12 after Scott Henry secured a sponsor’s invitation. The welome opportunity for the Clydebank man came the day after he’d missed out in the 36-hole qualifier at neighbouring Kilmarnock (Barassie), where Henry had been sitting second in the battle for four spots after an opening 68 before slipping to 22nd following a second-round 78.
Now the 30-year-old has been handed a chance to take up where he left off in his most recent European Tour outing, having ended a miserable run of 14 consecutive missed cuts this season to finish joint tenth in the BMW International Open in Germany at the end of last month.
In addition to Laird, who is also playing through an invitation, Henry joins Russell Knox, Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren, David Drysdale, Scott Jamieson, Paul Lawrie, Stephen Gallaher, Duncan Stewart, Jack Doherty, Paul O’Hara and Sandy Scott, the sole amateur in the field.
Lawrie is heading for Dundonald Links on the back of a two-hole win over 2013 Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolas Colsaerts in an 18-hole match at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centres at Ardoe and Inchmarlo.