Rather aptly for the "phoney" war which goes on in these days leading up to the first day of the tee-shots of the Ryder Cup, the opposing captains both revealed yesterday they had banned their players from tweeting this next week. Colin Montgomerie admitted he had instructed them to limit their output on their mobiles to avoid a Kevin Pietersen-style furore which could derail his team's bid to win back the trophy.
On the day the two teams arrived here – with the Americans making a grand entrance at Cardiff Airport – the draconian move indicated how high the tensions are running in the two camps already. Seve Ballesteros once said it was the captain's job to be like an older sibling in the team room but Montgomerie and Corey Pavin are surely taking the "Big Brother" advice a bit too far. In Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter, the sides boast two of sport's best-read tweeters with more than a million followers each.
Explaining the decision, Montgomerie invoked the example of the England cricketer who earlier this month was fined an undisclosed sum for reacting angrily to being left out of the England one-day squad when calling the decision a "fuck-up". "Kevin Pietersen's error changed my view as to that, yes," said the Scot, before conceding, "I don't know what tweeting is – I've never done it." Montgomerie said nobody would be punished if they did break ranks, calling it "an agreement". It was a similar story from Pavin. "The team has come to a consensus not to do it as it can be a little distracting sometimes," he said.
Although those such as Poulter have entered arguments with supporters on Twitter before, as individual sportsmen they have not been silenced. Poulter fired off a dozen or so tweets as soon as he was the first player to check in at Celtic Manor on Sunday and has long raved about the social website as a "brilliant way to keep the fans informed". How he will feel about the blackout is unclear.
While footballers and rugby players are now routinely sanctioned for Twitter misdemeanours, golfers are unpaid to appear in the Ryder Cup and a few of them – mainly Americans – have moaned before about being treated like children. It may seem irrelevant but in the flashpoint environment of the Ryder Cup, the smallest problem has the habit of affecting team morale. As the last US captain said, this could be a risky strategy. "If forced, bad idea; if it's a consensus, good idea," said Paul Azinger.
Poulter's mood was not helped any yesterday by being awoken in the early hours by a bogus fire alarm in the huge resort hotel. As he sat out on the curb awaiting re-entry he tweeted the word "shocker!"
It all served to provide a bizarre opening to the 38th staging of "the third biggest sports event in the world". Woods was the first of the US players down the steps, wearing the obligatory shades. His team-mates followed and then came their wives. At the front, the world No 1 was spared being in the middle without a partner. All eyes will be on the fallen icon when he tees it up in the first official practice session this morning.
Pavin refused to confirm whether Woods would be operating on his infamous "dawn patrol" , although it would be a big surprise if, on what is seen as his ultimate public offensive, he sneaks off before the gates open. Some 40,000 fans are expected through the gates today and they will encounter a course Montgomerie called the "fairest in many a year". The 47-year-old has remained true to his word not to trick up the layout to suit his team and Pavin applauded him for that. "That's the way the matches are meant to be played, in fairness and in great sportsmanship," said the American.
It was almost claustrophobically pally, with both captains seemingly petrified of upsetting the other with anything remotely controversial. Pavin went so far as to decline to gloat about Jim Furyk's win over Luke Donald in the final event of the FedEx Cup the night before. The one-shot victory saw the veteran America win £7.2m, consigning Donald to £1.8m. Saying that, for finishing second Donald collected more in a single payday than any Briton ever has for winning.
Last night, the in-form world No 8 was attending Europe's first team meeting, where Montgomerie was promising tears. "Last time around there did not appear to be the passion," he said referring to Nick Faldo's flat captaincy. "Who can say why but I can guarantee there will be passion this time. I will assemble everyone and there will be so much passion in that team room everyone will leave shaking. I can assure you everyone will go to bed, thinking, 'My God!'" They can think it, but not tweet it.Reuse content