Skipper Colin Montgomerie reckons Padraig Harrington’s “tremendous” birdie barrage in Paris has given his European team mates a massive Ryder Cup boost.
Controversial wildcard Harrington closed with a sensational 64 to finish just a shot off third place in the Vivendi Cup.
And Monty is over the moon that the player he wants to be one of his “on-course captains” has shown form in the nick of time.
Believing that Harrington’s haul of an eagle and 27 birdies over four rounds is huge for his side, Monty said: “I was very encouraged by Padraig’s performance in Paris, especially on Sunday.
“He had seven birdies and an eagle and I think it was tremendous.
“He flew back to Dublin last night, dropped off his brothers, picked up his wife and came in here.
“For the past year and a half, I’ve never seen Padraig as happy as he was last night.”
The critics have been queuing up to take a shot at Harrington, who denied world No 7 Paul Casey a place in Monty’s team.
The Dubliner hasn’t won a tour event for more than two years and has won just two half points from his last nine Ryder Cup games.
But Montgomerie has total faith in Ireland’s three-time major winner and he confessed at Celtic Manor that he wants Harrington and world No 3 Lee Westwood to lead the team as “on-course” captains.
Relieved that Harrington made the cut on the mark and went on to storm up the leaderboard over the weekend in France, Montgomerie said: “It was very important to make the cut for one. And not just to make the cut but to go from 40th to one shot off third place
“He finished eighth but he was one off third and I think that was most important for him and for the team.
“I want Padraig to play a big role in my team as an on-course captain, if you like. I want him and Lee Westwood to be my team leaders.
“They are my major players and I look forward having Padraig in that role.”
Harrington was delighted with his birdie haul as he believes he needs to be more aggressive at Celtic Manor than he has been in previous Ryder Cups.
Vowing to go on the attack in Wales, Harrington said: “Hopefully I’m peaking just at the right time – that would be nice. There’s nothing like making a few birdies to give your confidence a timely boost, and hopefully I can carry that through to this week.
“In match play, I need to be more aggressive – that’s certainly a failing I’ve had in the last few years.”
Irish tour stalwarts Des Smyth and Damien McGrane are also backing Harrington to prove the doubters wrong.
McGrane said: “I am delighted Padraig is in the team. I was worried for him when it came to getting a pick, because it is so political. But I am glad he is in because he is the best player in the world in my opinion and it would be odd not to have a player from the south of Ireland on the team.
“His asset to Monty is you can put him against anybody and he’ll give it 110 per cent. You know once he gets the bit between his teeth, whether he’s showing form or not, he can produce the goods because he’s a match play specialist.”
Smyth knows what Harrington can do for the team having acted as one of Ian Woosnam’s vice captains at the K Club in 2006.
Expecting him to do the business, Des declared: “He’ll be under pressure not to let himself down the way things have panned out. But I’ve no doubts about him. He’s a class operator, a class player and you can’t beat class.
“If he’d missed the cut in Paris it would have put him under even more pressure but he made a ton of birdies and that’s going to give him confidence.