Caddie lash inspires Padraig

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington finished with a spectacular tap-in eagle for a 65 and a share of the lead in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan.

But the Dubliner confessed that it took a tongue lashing from caddie Ronan Flood to get him back on track after he got frustrated by a slow start to his second round.

Defending the title he won in a play-off with Tiger Woods last year, Harrington confessed that he was fuming an frustrated after a bogey at the second.

But Flood's verbal dressing down got him thinking straight again and he racked up five birdies and a bogey before almost holing his 247 yard five-wood at the 18th.

Poulter hit a 68 to join Harrington at the top on seven under par, one shot clear of Finn Mikko Ilonen (65) and Japanese duo Shingo Katayama (67) and Daisuke Marayama (67).

Harrington started slowly with a bogey at the second hole and admitted his attitude was not the best until he received a stern rebuke from his caddie.

He said: "Three or four holes into the round my caddie was having a stern talk with me. I wanted to start quickly and I did the opposite.

"I was getting frustrated and losing patience. But he was at pains to point out we'd only played 22 holes and there were 50 holes to go.

"After that I made some birdies and got right into the thick of things.

"I need to be in contention to keep the adrenaline there and I'm right where I want to be and need to be. I'm happy to be where I am."

Harrington's closing eagle thrilled the sparse galleries at Phoenix Country Club near Miyazaki.

He was just three under for his round after a three-putt bogey at the par-three 17th but conjured up one of the shots of the year at the 560-yard 18th.

Stymied by a couple of trees, he hit a huge fade from 247 yards that almost went in the hole before stopping 12 inches away.

Harrington said: "I listened to the crowd and their reaction told me it was very close. I thought it was maybe six or seven feet, but when I came up I found it was a foot away.

Poulter also finished in style with a birdie at the last - hitting an exquisitely judged 40-yard pitch shot from the rough that barely cleared an overhanging tree branch.

Poulter said: "The branch was really close. I knew it would miss by inches but you've got to play these shots sometimes.

"I had to get the ball up seriously quickly. It was only going to miss the branch by a couple of inches, and it did, so I played it perfectly."

Poulter was still far from thrilled with his 68 after the fireworks of his opening 65.

He said: "I didn't play as well as yesterday, so I'm going to the range to hit 20 or 30 balls to get the feeling back.

"My timing was a tiny bit out. It wasn't bad, but yesterday was very, very good. Today was okay but I don't want to play okay.

"I'm going to have some nice sushi tonight, some Miyazaki beef, go to bed, play well tomorrow and see what happens on Sunday."

England's Luke Donald (66) and Spaniard Gonzalo fernandez Castano (69) are just two shots off the pace on five under with Japan's Yasuharu Imano.

Swede Henrik Stenson is five behind on two under after a 69.