Harrington fails to capitalise

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington fizzled out after starting with an amazing eagle two in his Dunlop Phoenix Tournament defence in Japan.

The Open champion, 36, holed a 187-yard six iron at his opening hole but then mixed four birdies with four bogeys in a 68 that left him three shots off the pace on two under.

England's Ian Poulter, South Korea's Kim Kyung-Tae and Japan's Toshinori Muto fired five under par 65s to lead by a shot from Gonzalo Fernandez Castano and Aussie Chris Campbell.

And Harrington confessed that his fast start backfired on him as he tried too hard to make birdies and finished the day in a share of 10th place.

Harrington said: "I had 187 yards and I hit a little cut six-iron. It looked nice in the air.

"I was very happy with it and it landed about three yards short and then disappeared.

"Certainly, I was pressing a little too hard after that, thinking that with a good start like that, I should shoot a very low number. I probably put myself under a little too much pressure."

Harrington is in a rich vein of form after winning the Irish Open, the Open and the Hassan Trophy this year.

He was fourth in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama where he narrowly failed to retain his Order of Merit crown and then took fifth place behind Phil Mickelson in last week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Playing his last counting event of the year before finishing his season in next month's unofficial Target World Challenge in LA, world No 7 Harrington described his two under par effort as a "reasonable start."

But he knows it could have been far better after getting to three under par after just six holes.

He said: "At times I was trying a little too hard, trying to birdie every hole.

"But I feel good about my game. I just need to stay a little more patient than today."

Poulter rolled in five birdies in a bogey free effort to tie for the lead in Miyazaki.

He said: "It was nice, real solid, very happy. I've done some good work on the range this week and it's all good.

"The greens are sneaky quick. I holed some really good six-eight feet recovery putts when I rolled it past.

"I'll take five-under with no bogeys around this place. It's pretty easy to make bogeys around here.

Luke Donald, Henrik Stenson and Finn Mikko Illonen were bunched at 69 in the €1.2 million where the winner will take home close to €250,000.