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First-round leader Eriksson five back

MAYNOOTH, Ireland — Stephen Dodd birdied the final holeFriday and grabbed a one-shot lead through two rounds of the IrishOpen.

Dodd is at 5-under 139, one shot better than four others on the7,301-yard Colin Montgomerie-designed course at Carton House.

Nick Dougherty, who shot a 72, and David Howell, who carded asecond straight 70, are tied with Bradley Dredge and Pelle Edbergat 4-under. Dredge and Edberg shot 68s on Friday, with Edberggetting there with birdies on the final three holes.

Klas Eriksson, who was tied for the lead with Dougherty afterthe first round, shot a 76 on Friday to fall five strokes off thelead at 144.

Montgomerie did not birdie any of the four par-5s and shot a 73for an even-par total of 144. Darren Clarke shot an eagle on thelast hole and was one behind following a 75. Padraig Harrington wasalso at 145 after shooting a 72.

"The field is bunched. I still say 4- or 5-under could win,"Montgomerie said.

Dodd has become something of a force this season. He won theChina Open and finished second at the Dubai Desert Classic inMarch, where he was beaten by Ernie Els' eagle at the final hole.

He has been helped by psychologist Allen Fine.

"I am just more focused," Dodd said.

After seeing his second shot at 18 on Friday deflect off a tree,Dodd chipped to six feet and holed for birdie.

"Obviously, my results this season suggest I'm better thanbefore," he said. "But it's just confidence. I'm probably notstriking the ball any better."

Ryder Cup player Howell birdied three straight holes on the backnine to put himself near the top of the leaderboard.

Last Sunday, Howell missed the final green on the 211-yard 18that Forest of Arden to fall into a playoff with Thomas Bjorn. Hemissed the same green twice more, allowing Bjorn to win the BritishMasters title.

"I was as gutted as I have ever been," Howell said.

Dougherty shot a 68 on Thursday to lead after the first round,but he was fine with his higher score Friday considering the poorconditions.

"A 72 here today was as good as a 68. It was cold and it wasraining," Dougherty said. "If I keep a level head, I should havea good chance come Sunday."

His only two birdies came at the third and fifth holes, which heregarded as the two hardest on the course Friday.

Paul McGinley, at 3-under, boosted his hopes of a first Irishvictory in the tournament since John O'Leary won in 1982.

McGinley made three straight birdies, but double-bogeyed thelong 15th. He lost his ball in the rough off the tee when he andthe marshals couldn't find it.

"It was only a few feet off the fairway but in the wet rough itburies. It weaves its way in and the grass covers it," McGinleysaid. "I don't think I've ever lost a ball in Ireland before."

He had seven birdies in his round including a 35-foot chip-in atthe long fourth hole.

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