Paul McGinley is convinced that out of sorts pal Padraig Harrington is as good an escape artist as Tiger Woods.
And that can only be good news as the pair team up for their ninth World Cup appearance in Portugal tomorrow.
The duo delayed their arrival in the Algarve by 24 hours to allow Harrington to seek help with his swing from coach Bob Torrance.
But McGinley has no fears that Harrington will let the side down when the take on the rest of the world at Victoria Clube de Golfe near Vilamoura.
McGinley rapped: “It doesn’t bother me how Padraig is playing because he’s like Tiger, he always finds a way of getting it around.
“It doesn’t bother me one bit the way he is playing. If he’s playing great, great. It he’s playing poorly, he’s still playing great, so I’m not bothered.”
Harrington has struggled to hit top form since the death of his father Paddy last July.
He won twice on the PGA Tour early in the season but since then his best performances have been wins in the JP McManus Pro-Am and the Irish PGA Championship.
The Dubliner flew back from Shanghai to London on Tuesday morning to hook up with Torrance at McGinley’s Sunningdale base.
And after just ten minutes with the Scottish guru, Harrington declared himself ready to rock and roll in search of World Cup title number two with his old school buddy.
He said: “I stopped off on the way here and had a lesson and I’m very happy now how I’m hitting the golf ball.
“I’ve been away for three weeks and I just got a bit lost in China on what I was meant to be working on.
“I rang Bob and asked him to come to London for just a few hours. It only took ten minutes as always and about four or five shots.
“I’d never have been able to work it out on my own. Once he tells you, it clears up you mind because you always need a little crutch to lean on all the time with your golf swing.”
Harrington actually finished a creditable 15th in the HSBC Tournament in Shanghai.
He added: “Sometimes you can play well and finish 15th and feel like you’re not at the races. But sometimes you play poorly and finish 15th and it gives you confidence, because you know if you improve a bit, you are right there.”
McGinley and Harrington are the most experienced World Cup duo in action this week with nine successive appearances together and a total of 22 World Cups between them.
The pair took the title on their first appearance together at Kiawah Island in 1997 and were third behind England and Spain in Seville last year.
Hard-working Harrington and super patriotic McGinley are possible the oddest couple in golf.
But they believe they have a chemistry and a desire that will be hard to match this week.
McGinley said: “We are obviously one of the favourites. But I say ‘one of’ because there are realistically six to eight teams who are equally strong in my view. It just depends who plays well. It might be us.
“We’re certainly going to be doing our best and we had great fun today in the practice round.”
McGinley and Harrington first team up for Ireland at amateur level in 1990.
But they have also played as partners in the Walker Cup, Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy over the past decade.
The pair have three Seve Trophies and two Ryder Cup victories and McGinley believes that success has played a major part in building their relationship.
Harrington added: “We’re from the same place at home, went to the same school. So our backgrounds are very similar.
“Even though we are different in how we play the game, we know what’s going through each other’s head.
“I think we both know we are giving 100 percent when we’re on the golf course and that helps because we’ve got a lot of confidence in what the other guy is doing and knowing he is fully committed.
“We’re totally different in our approach to the game. But we’ve certainly embraced our differences in the sense that I don’t try to change him and he doesn’t try and change me. We’re oppposites.”
While they make a great team, 5 foot 7 McGinley and 6 foot 1 Harrington are very different both in physique and personality.
At the 1997 World Cup, McGinley recalled how Harrington was up at dawn, “before I’d even turned over in the bed.”
But they also have a lot in common and like most Irish people, they will get behind and Irish sportsman or any Irish team, no matter where they are in the world.
McGinley revealed that they sought out an Irish pub in Shangahi last weekend and watched Ireland’s rugby team take on the All Blacks at one o’clock in the morning.
And Harrington agreed that as they hail from a small country, Irish sportsmen were probably keener than most to excel at international level.
It’s all about pride.
Harrington said: “Everybody in Ireland follows Ireland in all team sports. If we have anybody on the world stage, we like to get behind them.
“Myself an Paul will follow every other Irish event that we can. If we’re travelling around the world or if we’re in the States, we’re up early watching the matches.
“Or in Asia you are up late watching, but you’re always supporting the Irish teams.
“And because we are supporting the Irish teams, we obviously feel a certain little bit of pride when we’re playing for Ireland as well. A lot of pride actually.”
McGinley is possibly the most patriotic Irish sportsman on the planet.
His driver and fairway woods have green, white and gold covers. His towel is a green and white Celtic model. His golf tees are green and white and his golf shoes are monogrammed with shamrocks.
Even though he played poorly in Shanghai last weekend, he is up for the challenge this week.
He said: “My short game wasn’t sharp in China but I’ve been focussed on it the last two days and I will be ready.
“This is a tournament that I have been looking forward to all year. Probably more so than anything else.
“The World Cup is a huge title with huge tradition. It means a lot to me. We’ve won it before and I know it means a lot to Padraig as well.
“You know, it’s special. The whole of Ireland will go mad this week and half of Ireland is down here already.
“We treat anything representing Ireland very carefully and very patriotically. It’s a big deal.
“It’s a big deal for us, as a small country. We love to be the little fellas competing against the big fellas.”