Colin Montgomerie reckons that his most controversial pick for the Europe team, Padraig Harrington, is turning on the style just in time for the Ryder Cup.

“There are reasons why Pádraig Harrington was picked and judge me about that selection on October 4 and not on September 26,” said Montgomerie. “I feel the criticism was very unjustified to be honest. I know what Pádraig Harrington can do and that's why he was picked.”

The Scot was also bullish about Lee Westwood’s improved form, saying, “For him to start off so confidently with three birdies in the first four holes, it's always good for one's self esteem ... when you have not played in a while and you come in and start ripping the ball like he is."

In practice games before the tournament, Harrington’s form has maintained a steady upward trajectory.

He was paired with Luke Donald against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher and the Dubliner scored three eagles, much to the chagrin of his opponents.

Poulter was reluctant to reveal how much money he had lost on the game, saying only that it was “too much. I need to get to the cashpoint.”

“It was great for the team, bad for my pocket,” he added.

The dour Scot, whose demeanour has been more than usually combative since tawdry tales of his personal life began to spill out into the public, was unusually open and jovial with the assembled journalists.

Of one of his vice-captains, Thomas Bjorn, who is not teeing off in the opening fourballs on Friday, he said with a grin, “I didn't pick him, thank God, because he's not playing very well.”