Harrington fifth in Japan

By Brian Keogh

Pooped Padraig Harrington had to settle for tied fifth behind Ian Poulter in the Dunlop Phoenix Tour in Japan.

The jaded Dubliner was defending the title he won in a play-off with Tiger Woods last year.

But after a costly third round 73, he closed to a one under par 69 to finish six shots behind English ace Poulter on five under par.

Harrington said: "I struggled the last couple of days when it got a bit windier with the clubbing and distance control. A lot of that's mental.

"My good shots seemed to come up long or shot. That's usually down to a bit of fatigue rather than anyone else."

After winning the Open and the Irish Open this year, Harrington will take the next three weeks off before he closes his best ever season as a professional in Tiger Woods' Target World Challenge in LA.

He is due to become a father for the second time in around a weeks' time.

Poulter clinched a wire-to-wire win after battling off a late challenge from fellow Englishman Luke Donald.

Playing in his final stroke play event of the year, the flamboyant English star kept his nose in front when he saved a vital par with an unlikely 40-foot putt on the 12th.

He went on to roll in two more birdies in a closing, one under par 69 to finish three strokes clear of Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Donald started the day two shots behind Poulter but drew level by the sixth.

But he double bogeyed the eighth and bogeyed the 15th to finish tied for third with Japan's Shingo Katayama after a 71

Poulter, 31, will partner Justin Rose in this week's Omega Mission Hills World Cup and heads to China on a high.

After grabbing his first win of the season, he said: "I was very much aware that this was the last stroke play event of the year. It's a lovely feeling to win again, and it's so nice to come and do it in Japan."

The par-four 12th proved crucial for Poulter, who seemed destined to fall back into a tie for the lead with Donald, only to sink a rollercoaster 40-footer from the fringe.

He explained: "The putt was swinging left to right with the last seven or eight feet onto the down slope, I was just trying to two-putt it.

"In that position, you're trying to get it close enough to where you don't three-putt. It was a huge boost to see it go in. It took a bit of pressure off."

He curled in a six-foot birdie two holes later to extend his lead and was never headed after that.