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July 13, 2017

Mikko Ilonen

Ayrshire, Scotland

Q. You're smiling, not surprised. Good start here at The Scottish Open?
MIKKO ILONEN: 65 is the round of the season, really. I'm not going to say it's been the whole season pretty bad but it's been certainly a good part of it has been pretty slow out there. It's nice to get something going and make a few birdies and no mistakes on the card.

Q. What do you think's been the turnaround? You've missed a few cuts heading into this week. What clicked and what worked well today?
MIKKO ILONEN: I actually changed my irons on Tuesday. So new irons in the bag, 718s. It can be just little things that gives you a little extra confidence. I didn't really miss one shot -- well, one tee shot I missed on the eighth, but other than that, I struck the ball better than probably two or three years.

Q. Do you think you can capitalise on this now for the rest of the tournament and put up a really good week?
MIKKO ILONEN: Yeah, I do need to put some rounds together. I've got to start from a couple of holes, nine holes, and now 18 holes, and I've just got to continue from there, really. I haven't been able to put two rounds together. So it's a long way to get four rounds together.

Q. How much do you enjoy this type of golf?
MIKKO ILONEN: I enjoy it very much. Last week was fantastic and The Open coming up next week, I'm not in for that yet, but it's always been one of my favourite tournaments. I just think The Irish Open, The Scottish Open, should definitely be on links courses, every year.

Q. The rain started to fall, the temperature has been dropping and you turn in a clean card. What was the key to your round today?
MIKKO ILONEN: Well, I didn't really miss a shot, other than the tee shot on No. 8. I skulled my rescue there a little bit to the right, but other than that, I didn't really miss a shot. I kept my head in it, didn't do any mistakes. Had a good group of guys playing the three ball. It was a good atmosphere there, and a pretty good golf course. So it was fun today.

Q. It's been a tough month plus for you, coming in off of four straight missed cuts. What have you found?
MIKKO ILONEN: I found new irons in my bag. That was a pleasant surprise. Titleist came out with new irons this week, and I put them straight in the bag.

It's something, it can be very little things that get you going, and I think that might be for me this week.

Q. You've won all over the world in, Ireland, Sweden, Indonesia how can that help you as you try to win for the sixth time on The European Tour?
MIKKO ILONEN: Well, it's a long way to go. It's Thursday, isn't it. Well, I've played links golf when I was a kid. As an amateur we played, and I won the Amateur back in the days; there's some experience in there.

I've had a couple of good Opens in the past. I've played a fair amount of links golf. I know what to expect. The weather can change, and hopefully the wind direction doesn't change, because I actually like this wind direction for the golf course. I think it's pretty playable for me.

Q. When you stood on the 10th tee about four hours ago, did you envisage shooting 65?
MIKKO ILONEN: I wasn't imagining shooting 65. I thought anything in the 60s would be a great round. Given my recent form, I think red numbers really, but 7-under is a good start.

Q. What's the difference out there today?
MIKKO ILONEN: Stayed very patient. I felt good going out there. Waking up this morning, I didn't feel great. I had to take a little bit of medication to get me going. I had a terrible migraine coming up. I dodged that, and once that was over, all relaxed and gone out there and just played some golf, just one shot at a time.

Q. Five birdies in six holes on the front nine, your back nine. How important is it on this type of a golf course to string a good run together?
MIKKO ILONEN: Well, you've got to take advantage of what you get. When you have those chances, you've got to make some birdies. I missed a couple of short-ish birdie chances in the beginning, and luckily I didn't get frustrated there because there was plenty of more holes to come. I started to get advantage of those shots that I hit close enough to make birdie.

So it was just a matter of staying patient.

Q. 15 seems to have caused a few problems today, the par 3, and you birdied it. Is that hole playing particularly tough?
MIKKO ILONEN: It's a tight hole. It's a small green. You're coming in, I hit a 5-iron in there. There was a really small margin of error there, and I just pitched it right on top the bunker.

Q. Obviously an Open Championship place up for grabs, a long way to go but I'm sure that's at the back of your mind. But this course can play differently on all four days?
MIKKO ILONEN: It can, and I'm sure we're going to see that, as well. The weather does change now, so hopefully it will be okay in the morning.

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