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|For European team captain Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington is the right choice.|
NEWPORT, Wales -- The most controversial decision of Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup captaincy has been the selection of Ireland's Padraig Harrington as a wild-card pick.
Harrington, a three-time major champion, was taken over Paul Casey, ranked eighth in the world, and Justin Rose, who has won twice this year on the PGA Tour.
Harrington, meanwhile, has gone 25 months since his last victory, missed three cuts in major championships this year and has failed to win a match in each of the past two Ryder Cups.
Montgomerie has taken some "stick'' for the selection -- the phrasing used in an interview session Tuesday at Celtic Manor -- but said it was unfounded.
"I feel the criticism was very unjustified, to be honest,'' Montgomerie said. "I know what Padraig can do, and that's why he was picked. He's like a rookie out there today. He had three eagles out there already. He's playing the best golf of my team out there, and I feel the criticism early on before the Ryder Cup is very unjustified.''
Harrington, who failed to advance to the final two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, shot a final-round 64 on Sunday in Paris to tie for eighth at the Vivendi Cup. He then flew home to Dublin and joined his wife, Caroline, and traveled to Wales on Sunday night.
Harrington, Montgomerie said, could not wait to get here, could not wait to get going.
"He's a world player, he's won three major championships, and the stature of the guy is second to none within our team… He walked into Celtic Manor as if he was a rookie. Fantastic. And he was really up about the whole thing, and has been since.
"The reasons why Padraig Harrington was picked … judge me about that selection on October the 4th and not on September the 28th.''