Colin Montgomerie and his back-room team are working on what can only be described as a top secret plan to bring out the best in controversial Ryder pick Padraig Harrington.
The Dubliner, who turned 39 on Tuesday, will be under pressure to perform at Celtic Manor having managed just two halves from his last nine Ryder Cup games.
But Harrington’s close pals - Monty, Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn (let’s leave out vice-captain No 4, Sergio Garcia) - believe they know what went wrong for the triple major winning Irish ace at The K Club in 2006 and at Valhalla two years ago.
And they have vowed not to make the same mistakes in Wales with McGinley insisting that Harrington will given all the help he needs at Celtic Manor to produce the kind of golf that made him a triple major winner in the first place.
Assessing Harrington’s recent Ryder Cup flops, McGinley revealed: “We talked about this extensively — the three vice-captains and Monty — and we believe, and I certainly believe, that there are reasons why Padraig hasn’t played well in the last two Ryder Cups.”
So what was the problem?
Poor form? Fatugue? His neck? Bad blood with his captain? His team mates?
“I am not going to make those reasons public but we certainly won’t be making the same mistakes,” McGinley said. “There are ways to get the best out of Padraig and enable him to put himself in a position to play his best golf.
“We will discuss that between ourselves and with Padraig in due course. It is not something that we are going to make public because we don’t want to give too much away to the Americans. With the internet these days, everyone reads everything that everyone else says.
“But I have my own ideas and Monty does too. We have both played with Padraig in the Ryder Cup and we know how strong he is as a partner. Obviously his performances are Valhalla were disappointing but I think there were reasons for that and Monty does too.
“I don’t want to say too much and give the Americans an edge because it is very, very important that we win this Ryder Cup.”
After winning four points out of five in Europe’s record-breaking nine-point win at Oakland Hills in 2004, Harrington found it difficult to deal with the pressure of leading Europe on home soil at The K Club two years later.
Europe still managed to run out nine-point winners once more but at Valhalla two years ago, he was jaded after knocking off two major wins just a few weeks earlier. In fact, he went into the Ryder Cup on the back of two missed cuts and a share of 55th in the first three FedExCup events.
After the Valhalla defeat, Harrington said: “I’m happy I didn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of trying but I just didn’t have it this week. It wasn’t there. Having two big highs in the middle of the summer has caused it. Had I known the way I was going to play in the FedEx Cup I would have taken the month off. There was no point in playing the way I played in those three weeks. My preparation wasn’t right. I will look back and blame that. The thing is I couldn’t do anything about it. Such is life.”
Harrington also needed treatment on his neck that week but there was a lot more going on behind the scenes and Nick Faldo’s disastrous captaincy certainly didn’t bring out the best in the Dubliner who was unhappy about his skipper from the moment he decided not to pick Darren Clarke.
The absence of Clarke and Monty in Kentucky meant Faldo was the centre of attention in the locker room at Valhalla. Apart from Jose Maria Olazabal, who spent far too much time massaging Sergio Garcia’s bruised ego, no-one on the 12-man team was prepared to stand up and lead. It is no secret at this stage that Lee Westwood sulked as players like Harrington and Garcia shrunk from the responsibility.
Harrington confessed as much on his website on Tuesday. And while he is not a natural leader in the team room, he knows he will be required to do better in that department at Celtic Manor.
Bracing himself for the burden of responsibility in Wales, he wrote: “It is up to me to make my presence felt in the team room, to give players the benefit of my experience; definitely at the last Ryder Cup we lacked a leader in the team room - previously Monty and Darren had assumed the role, whereas last time round nobody did.”
While McGinley does not believe that Harrington was picked to lead Europe, Harrington obviously feels that he must make some sort of noise this time, adding on his blog: “In the end, Monty’s pick is a vote of confidence in myself — now it is up to me to ensure that he made the right choice.
“In my mind one of the reasons that he has picked me is that he wanted more experience, as there are a number of rookies in the team.
“One of the things that I learnt from the last Ryder Cup is that it is not just on the course where experience is needed.”
McGinley knows that Harrington could be jaded at Celtic Manor if he plays his way into the top 30 who will tee it up in the FedExCup finale, the Tour Championship, the week before the Ryder Cup.
But he also believes that Harrington’s presence in the side will be more intimidating for the Americans than it will be inspirational for the Europeans.
McGinley said: “As we know, he is a very formidable personality and character and we felt it was very important to have him in the team room.
“But it is not so much about our team looking up to Padraig. It is the intimidation factor he exerts over the Americans.
“No-one likes playing against Padraig. He is not an easy guy to play against and if you are an American and you are standing on the tee, Padraig Harrington is not a face you would like to see across the other side of the tee box.”
My guess is that Harrington won’t have to say too much at Celtic Manor. When the six rookies on the side take a look at the Dubliner sitting next to Miguel Angel Jimenez and the always phlegmatic Westwood in that team room, they will know that they are not going into battle alone.
Add to that the presence of hardened campaigners like Montgomerie, Bjorn, McGinley and Clarke and it looks like a formidable set up.