5 things: FatHead, ThinSkin

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Just in time for Christmas, Ian Poulter wall art is available. Hurry, while supply lasts!

We all know Ian Poulter has a big ego. Remember when he proclaimed himself the No. 2 player behind Tiger Woods before ever winning on the PGA Tour? But a FatHead and a thin skin, who knew?

Christmas came early for all you Poulter fans out there. FatHead, the makers of life-size wall graphics that you can stick on flat surfaces, introduced its ninth golfer – a Poulter model confidently dressed in all pink. [Go here to buy]

As for being thin-skinned, Poulter didn’t appreciate the swing analysis of NBC’s Johnny Miller during the telecast of the BMW Championship. So Poulter fired back on Twitter.

“Johnny miller saying today I wasn't a good ball striker. I guess I do alright for a duffer then. He talks such bollocks at times,” Poulter wrote.

He wasn’t done yet. Poulter added a second tweet: “I will have to try and win a couple of majors like him and see if I can change his mind until then I'm happy being a overrated duffer.”

The self-proclaimed “World No. 2’’ hasn’t lost his lofty opinion of himself.

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Tiger Woods is close to finishing the year without a PGA Tour victory; it would be a career first.

Unless he changes his mind and makes a rare “Fall Finish” appearance, Tiger Woods will finish his first season without a PGA Tour victory since turning professional in 1996. That’s heady stuff.

When such a possibility was raised after a middling performance at the AT&T National, most scoffed at such a notion. It was regarded as improbable, not with starts at TW favorites such as Firestone, Cog Hill and East Lake looming. Well, the clock may have struck midnight on Woods’ season, with his next appearance the Ryder Cup in Wales.

After bottoming out with a T-78 finish at the Bridgestone Invitational, Woods has shown flashes of his former self but still failed to record a top-10 (T-12, T-11, T-15 in his three playoff appearances).

Woods also failed to qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta, the top-30-only affair that caps off the FedEx Cup. It marks the third time in five years that Woods has not played at East Lake. The difference is on this occasion, he isn’t eligible after finishing No. 42 in the FedEx Cup playoff standings.

If this was Woods’ last Tour appearance of the season, fans were treated to seeing him paired with World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who shot 67.

“Given that the two golfers began the day eight strokes off the lead, this was more of an undercard than heavyweight main event,” wrote Golfweek’s Jeff Rude. “But you’d never know it by their massive gallery.”

It was their 26th time playing in the same group, and their head-to-head record is now even – 11-11-4.

••••••••••••••

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Graeme McDowell tweeted this picture of Callaway's new Octane driver, coming in November.

It’s that time of year again in the golf equipment industry, when companies begin to turn their attention toward next year and a wave of product launches.

TaylorMade made a big splash about its newest irons on the Web last week. But arguably more interesting were the Twitter revelations of U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, a Callaway endorser, who wrote Sept. 7: “Here in Carlsbad, CA at the Callaway Global Sales conference. New equipment being unveiled 2moro. Watch this space.” [yfrog.com/mist3qj]

These days, news about product introductions seemingly “leaks” faster than ever – thanks in part, apparently, to company staff players and new media.

McDowell tweeted Sept. 8 (with picture): “Check this puppy out!! The new Callaway Octane driver. Coming at you in November of this year. Very hot.” [yfrog.com/2pftwtj]

It sure is a different world.

••••••••••••••

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Spain's Alvaro Velasco is now certain to get one of the 20 European Tour cards this year.

The cash-rich Kazakhstan Open was always going to help decide who gets a 2011 European Tour card.

Spain’s Alvaro Velasco won the title and the €64,000 top prize from a €400,000 purse to leap to the top of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit. He is certain to get one of the 20 cards on offer from the Challenge Tour.

However, finishing second was good, too. Former Augusta State player Scott Jamieson earned €32,000 for joint second to move from 71st on the money list to 20th.

Italy’s Federico Colombo shared second and moved from 110th on the money list to 24th and within sight of a Euro Tour card.

••••••••••••••

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Hunter Mahan followed a second-round 68 at Cog Hill with a third-round 75.

How bad was Hunter Mahan’s strange rib ailment on Saturday at the BMW Championship? Well, it required a trainer for Mahan to make the trip to the eighth hole at Cog Hill.

Mahan insists that it’s not unusual for his ribs to pop out, as they did during Saturday’s round. In fact, it happens rather frequently during the year, but this time it was a little more painful than in times past. And maybe cause for a little more concern, considering that the Ryder Cup is less than three weeks away.

“It was really low and it was uncomfortable,” Mahan said of the pain on the lower left side of his rib cage. “They were out yesterday and they popped back in. I took a deep breath today on the fourth hole and I just felt them pop out.”

Mahan doesn’t know for sure why they pop out but thinks it has to do with his swing.

According to Mahan, the trainer works on his ribs every day, and Mahan has to be aware of the potential for the ribs to pop out and get treatment when necessary.

After shooting a 4-over 75, Mahan said the issue with his ribs didn’t affect his round, but immediately after the ribs popped out, Mahan had a stretch of bogey, double bogey and bogey.

Mahan shot 73 Sunday to finish T-37.

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