Harrington is Europe's heavyweight champ

Louisville might have Muhammad Ali but Europe has its own heavyweight brawler in triple major winner Padraig Harrington.

That's the view of Ryder Cup veteran Paul McGinley, who reckons that Harrington the kind of "mauler" you need in your corner if the Ryder Cup turns nasty.

Crazed US fans are expected to recreate the hostile atmosphere that helped the US surge back from the dead to KO Europe at Brookline in 1999.

But McGinley is convinced that Harrington's fighting qualities can give Nick Faldo a serious edge.

McGinley said: "If it comes down to a scrap where a team really need a point, you want a mauler in there.

"There is nobody better at that than Tiger Woods but close behind him is Padraig. And those two are quite a distance ahead of anybody else.

"Padraig has a game not too dissimilar to Tiger's. They hang in there, they're never beaten, they get up and down, they score when by rights they shouldn't be scoring.

"Padraig really is a scrapper and I use the term as a compliment. Scrappers are the toughest guys to play against. They're like the boxer who hangs onto you and is so clever he keeps scoring points without you feeling it.

"That's what Padraig does. If this Ryder Cup comes down to a scrap, there'll be nobody in either of the two teams better at it than Padraig."

Without Tiger Woods, the US team is relying on the crowd to give them the X-factor they need to stop Europe winning for the fourth time in a row

Europe has lost its playing captain in Colin Montgomerie but McGinley expects world No 4 Harrington to lead with his play on the course and leave the extrovert antics to Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

McGinley said: "I just don't think Padraig has the personality to do it. Padraig is a very humble guy. He won't be the raucous, controversial kind of central figure that Monty has been. I

"If you want to look for that kind of figurehead, Padraig will be quite happy to see Sergio take all his energy to the front.

"Sergio loves the Ryder Cup and he's got the leadership qualities you need in the team room. That doesn't mean Sergio will be our lead player out on the course. Padraig will still be number one and will do it in a more understated way.

"The truth is he doesn't have the kind of personality that's intimidating and he doesn't go out of his way to make himself intimidating. But his game is intimidating.

"Padraig's short game is phenomenal. It has been since I've known him from the age of 14. But now his long game has improved so much, too."

Harrington proved this year that his Open win at Carnoustie was no fluke when he retained the Claret Jug with an amazing performance at Royal Birkdale and then snatched the US PGA at Oakland Hills with a TIger-like back nine charge.

And McGinley was not in the least bit surprised to see his close pal prove his critics wrong by winning three Majors in the space of 13 months.

He said: "It's ironic the same guys who say Padraig is so strong mentally were criticising him for having all those second places only 18 months ago.

"But his success in winning three major titles didn't surprise me. I know what's he's like and I knew he was going to come good, which he did when he beat Sergio to The Open last year.

"He's gained hugely in confidence by winning that first major. That is probably the main reason why he's won majors two and three this year.

"Once you get over the hurdle of winning that first title, you reach a comfort zone."