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Ryder Cup in a flap over Twitter ban

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Captains of the two Ryder Cup teams will ban golfers from using Twitter and Facebook during the tournament, but there is much flip-flopping afoot.

After two European golfers went against team orders, a compromise has been struck so that golfers may continue to tweet providing they avoid discussing team tactics or anything else said in team talks.

European captain Colin Montgomerie and his US opposite number Corey Pavin told a press conference on Monday that both squads have been banned from using either Facebook or Twitter for the duration of next weekend's eagerly-awaited tournament.

Montgomerie cited cricketer Kevin Pietersen's Twitter rant in justifying his decision to impose a social networking gagging order, AFP reports. Pietersen took to Twitter to express his disappointment at getting dropped from one day internationals against Pakistan following poor form with the bat in the proceeding test series.

In response to questions about a recent micro-blogging spat between Ian Poulter and US golf commentator Johnny Miller, the European captain said the ban was not directed at any particular member of the team.

However, team members Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) and Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) continued to post updates on their respective Twitter accounts even after Monday's ruling. This provoked a sit-down on Wednesday and relaxation of the blanket ban together with an agreement that anything said in team talks will remain strictly off limits, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Pavin said the US team had decided that using Twitter during the tournament was an unnecessary distraction. "[Twitter] can be a little bit distracting some times," Pavin said, AFP reports. "I think it's important to focus on the Ryder Cup and playing the matches."

"We've decided as a whole to not Tweet this week, but first thing a week from today I am sure Tweeting will be all over the place," he added.

The latest Ryder Cup (which is contested every two years) tees off at Celtic Manor, Wales on Friday. The resort is owned by Welsh/Canadian networking billionaire Terry Matthews, founder of Mitel and Newbridge Networks.

Micro-blogging and professional sports have had an erratic relationship. Control freakery and a desire to prevent players making potentially embarrassing comments on social networking websites prompted Manchester United to impose a ban back in January.

Other football clubs have a more foolhardy open attitude to social media. For example, Atlético Madrid star Diego Forlan (@diegoforlan) used the micro-blogging site to chronicle Uruguay's surprise progress to the World Cup semi-final in South Africa, during which he scored five goals, becoming joint top-scorer at the tournament. ®

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