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Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Tuesday, 28 September 2010 15:26 UK

Ryder Cup 2010: Harrington 'best' in Cup practice

38th Ryder Cup
Venue: Celtic Manor, Newport Date: 1-3 October Starts: 0745 BST on Friday Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live & online, live text commentary online & daily highlights on BBC TWO. Live on Sky Sports 1


Padraig Harrington
Montgomerie has a good feeling about the potential impact of Harrington

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie says Padraig Harrington produced the best form on Tuesday's first practice day ahead of this week's Ryder Cup.

Harrington, 22nd in the world rankings, was the most contentious of the three picks made by the Scot in August.

But Montgomerie said the three-time major winner had sparkled on course.

"I know what Padraig can do and that's why he was picked. He's had three eagles out there today and is playing the best golf of my team right now."

Montgomerie gambled on the 39-year-old Dubliner as one of his three captain picks, ahead of more conservative options such as world number seven Paul Casey and Justin Rose.

The Scot explained Harrington was a player "nobody in matchplay golf wants to play - a great competitor", although he failed to win a match in each of the past two Ryder Cups.

And while Casey has reached the last two finals of the World Match Play in Arizona, Harrington has lost in the first round to Pat Perez and Jeev Milkha Singh.

But he produced a reminder of his talents with a 64 in the final round of the Vivendi Cup on Sunday, and Montgomerie said criticism of his selection of the player was "very unjustified".

Graeme McDowell 'expects' McIlroy pairing in Ryder Cup

He went on: "The stature of the guy is second to none in our team. I was very happy with how he shot 64 in Paris, it was great for him.

"He has come here as if he is a rookie and he has been up about the whole thing and that's just fantastic."

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell also feels Harrington will be a key member of the team.

"I am sure there's no better man to handle the pressure than Padraig and I fully expect him to be a force on the team," said the US Open winner.

"You fully expect Padraig to be the kind of guy that will work so hard and will make sure he's as well prepared as anyone.

606: DEBATE
groovyforestfever

"You can be certain he's hit quite a few balls the last three weeks. I suspect there's a fair amount of turf been removed down in Dublin."

McDowell was paired with another hot property from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy, during practice. BBC Sport understands they might be the first pairing in the fourballs on Friday.

Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari formed another pair, while world number four Lee Westwood teamed up with USPGA champion Martin Kaymer.

Harrington teamed up with world number number eight Luke Donald, Ian Poulter went out with Ross Fisher while Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez completed the match-ups.

Meanwhile, US captain Corey Pavin put world number one Tiger Woods alongside Hunter Mahan while Steve Stricker, who won all four matches alongside Woods in the Presidents Cup a year ago, joined Zach Johnson.

The course is set up for a very good driver of the ball. It's not a 'bombs away' course

McDowell on the characteristics of Celtic Manor

Other pairings included Masters champion and world number two Phil Mickelson with Rickie Fowler, the youngest player in the US team at 21, Jim Furyk and Jeff Overton, Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson.

McDowell's pairing with fellow Ulsterman and good friend McIlroy would form one of the most exciting partnerships for Europe.

The 31-year-old's confidence heading into his second appearance comes not only from his maiden major victory at Pebble Beach, but also his Wales Open win at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor two weeks previously.

"I thought it was set up really well in June - good thick rough off the fairways, some nice run-offs around the green. I thought it was perfect," said McDowell.

"The course is set up for a very good driver of the ball. It's not a 'bombs away' course. You have to plot your way around a bit and keep it out of the nasty thick stuff. I hope it's going to be the same again."

• Ian Poulter has said the controls on the players' use of Twitter did not amount to the blanket ban it had been interpreted to be.

The world number 16 used the social network site to tell his one million-plus followers: "For the record Colin hasn't banned Twitter, he has asked to be respectful to the team's privacy."

José María Olazábal

Ryder Cup 1987 - Europe's first win in US



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see also
Fans will respect us, says Pavin
28 Sep 10 |  Golf
Ryder Cup 2010: Tuesday photos
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Tweets not banned - Montgomerie
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Montgomerie writes losing speech
27 Sep 10 |  Golf
US golfers arrive for Ryder Cup
27 Sep 10 |  Wales
Managing is biggest test - Monty
26 Sep 10 |  Golf
Furyk edges Donald to Atlanta win
27 Sep 10 |  Golf
Harrington hits 64 in Cup warm-up
26 Sep 10 |  Golf
Coach Flower opposes Twitter ban
08 Sep 10 |  Cricket
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf


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