CASARES, Spain – Top-ranked Lee Westwood is considering closing his Twitter account after becoming dismayed at the amount of abuse directed at himself and fellow golfers by “idiots” on the social networking site.
Westwood is a regular user of Twitter along with a number of his teammates from Europe’s Ryder Cup side, but he said the service was being used for the wrong purpose.
“It’s losing its meaning,” Westwood said. “It’s social media, not social slagging. It seems to have turned into that for some people.”
Flamboyant Englishman Ian Poulter, who will play Westwood in the last 16 of the World Match Play Championship in Spain on Saturday, has been the target of heavy criticism on Twitter, while 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie has closed his account.
England football star Wayne Rooney recently joined Twitter and this week threatened to put a user “to sleep in 10 seconds” after being sent abusive messages.
“It’s just pathetic,” Westwood said. “It’s there to interact with people and give them an idea of stuff they might not ordinarily be able to engage with. But some always take it too far and spoil it.”
Second-ranked Luke Donald said the “negative media” toward Poulter was frustrating but intended to continue tweeting.
“That’s not the tool it was meant for … but it hasn’t got to that point for me yet,” Donald said.
Graeme McDowell, the fifth-ranked Northern Ireland player, said Twitter abuse “goes with the territory.”
“People open an account and all they want to do is abuse celebrities and sportsmen to try to get a response,” McDowell said. “You try not to encourage them, and generally I just block them, but if you want to stay on it you’re going to have to accept some absolute trash that people talk.
“It’s downright evil, some of the stuff.”
Westwood and Poulter often exchange messages over Twitter to wind each other up, but the top-ranked player said that wouldn’t be happening ahead of their match on Saturday.