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Stop the tweets, start the birdies

For the sports stars and celebrities cosseted by armies of advisers and swarms of spokesmen, Twitter would seem to be the perfect medium to communicate their unvarnished thoughts to fans across the globe.

But the combination of testosterone-charged sportsman and instant online publication has already led to many casualties of the micro-blogging revolution. Just ask Kevin Pietersen, the England batsman fined for an online rant after being dropped for the recent one-day series against Pakistan.

That incident led cricketing authorities to draw up new regulations for players' use of social media. Yesterday golf became the latest sport to follow suit. The captains of the Europe and United States teams, who meet on Friday for the start of the Ryder Cup, announced yesterday that both teams would observe bans on using Twitter for the duration of the competition.


Mindful of on-course rivalry spilling into an online forum, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin said that players had been asked not to tweet this week, and instead put the expression of their most intimate thoughts on hold until Monday.

Among the reasons given by Montgomerie was the fallout when Pietersen reacted angrily after being dropped from England's Twenty20 and one-day side against Pakistan. The South African-born batsman wrote: "Yep. Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too ... It's a f*** up!"

Montgomerie said: "Kevin Pietersen's error changed my view."

Describing the decision as a "so-called ban", the Europe captain admitted that there was little he could do if players ignored the edict. "If someone does it, how can you punish someone for it?" he asked.


With some of his team seemingly addicted to the social networking phenomenon, Montgomerie might need to keep a close eye on them.

Ian Poulter, for one, has just over a million followers and admitted to being taken a little by surprise. Last night the Englishman couldn't resist a tweet about the crackdown: "I played 7 holes today course is awesome."

He told readers: "For the record Colin hasn't banned Twitter, he has asked us to be respectful to the teams' privacy. If that's what Colin wants, it's fine."

Poulter's latest tweets included pictures of all the paraphernalia that had been awaiting him in his hotel room on his arrival in South Wales. "It was nice to give people an insight into the goodies in the room and what is going on. But I shall be so busy that I was not going to be doing any [tweeting] during the week anyway. People do like it. But I can take plenty of pictures of what I need and send them out on Monday."


Earlier in the day Graeme McDowell, one of three Irishmen in the Europe team, tweeted: "Getting some last minute tweets in before we get banned!!" -- and saved his best till last. "We have a team meeting at 6, so will keep you posted on the tweeting ban . . ."

On the United States side, Stewart Cink boasts a following of 1.2m people. Pavin, however, stressed that his team had gone along with the ruling. "We thought it best not to do it. We need to focus on playing, preparations and getting ready to play the Ryder Cup.

"Whatever they would like to do -- tweeting or Facebooking -- they have the opportunity to do that next week and for the rest of their lives."