Padraig Harrington reckons Jose Marie Olázabal is the strong man that Europe needs to retain the Ryder Cup in 2012.
The Spanish maestro, a two-time Masters champion, is widely expected to be named as Colin Montgomerie’s successor in Abu Dhabi next Tueday.
And Harrington is convinced that Olazábal’s latin passion will be vital to Europe’s cause as the side bids to retain the trophy on US soil for the first time since 2004.
Harrington said: “He was incredibly inspirational as a player and on a couple of occasions as a vice-captain. Though it was limited on those two occasions because he obviously was only there for the day at Celtic Manor and the time before in Valhalla, it just didn’t manifest itself too often, it still was very inspirational.
“I never experienced a Ryder Cup with Seve but I honestly can’t think that anybody feels more about the Ryder Cup than Jose.
“Playing on a team that Jose captains would be mentally and emotionally some week because he’s incredibly inspirational when it comes to the Ryder Cup – so passionate.”
Nick Faldo lost the Ryder Cup to Paul Azinger’s side in Kentucky in 2008 and Harrington knows it will be far from easy for the European skipper at Medinah in Chicago in two years’ time.
Believing Olazábal is just the man for the job, he said: “I think you need a big captain when you go to the States. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to beat them over there and for them to beat us in Europe going forward.
“Until they have a neutral set-up it’s going to be tough when you go to their set-up, versus our set-up – so we’ll have as good a captain as we can get when we go to the States.”
The US is likely to be skippered by Davis Love III, who was one of Corey Pavin’s vice captains at Celtic Manor last October.