Inside the basement of his home in Portland, Ore., Chris Mike stood up a few Sunday afternoons ago and screamed at the television so loudly that his two young children left the room shaking their heads.
Like 20 million other Americans watching the final round of the Masters on TV, Mike could not fathom how Tiger Woods practically willed his Nike golf ball to make a 90-degree turn down a ridge on the 16th green, sit for two full seconds on the lip of the cup as if it were posing for posterity and fall in the hole to complete one of the most memorable shots in the sport's history.
It took Mike about as long as the ball teetered on the brink of golf immortality before he stopped acting like a golf fan and started thinking like a golf executive.
The director of marketing and advertising for Nike Golf, Mike quickly found his phone.
"The first thing I did was I called (a colleague) and said, 'I think we have our next One Ball commercial,' " Mike said last week.
That One Ball, a model called One Platinum featuring a softer center with an outer shell that gets harder the farther it gets from the core, will hit the Western New York market in mid-May. Area golf merchandisers, including officials from Golf Galaxy, Dick's and Pro Golf Discount, said one dozen of the Nike One Platinum's will cost approximately $39.99.
Mike estimated that 30-second commercials for the Masters telecast -- if they still were sold to more than three companies -- could cost as much as $250,000 apiece. The Nike label was obvious on Woods' chip shot for two full seconds. Doing the math, that glimpse of the Nike swoosh amounted to $16,666 of advertising each time it was shown Sunday.
To Mike and his fellow Nike Golf officials, the chip shot was like life telling art to forget about trying any imitations and scrap any previous ad campaigns. Golf's grip tightened on the casual sports fan with every replay, and every one of the hundreds of replays prominently featured the signature Nike swoosh on the side of Woods' golf ball. In essence, that all but announced the Beaverton, Ore.-based company as the unofficial sponsor of the moment.
By the 60th replay on highlight shows and sportscasts, Nike already had received the equivalent of $1 million in free publicity. Nike's 9 percent share of the golf ball market seemed sure to spike considerably by the U.S. Open.
"The value of that shot far exceeds any mathematical evaluation of (purchased) media time," Mike said.
Such saturation led many in the sports marketing industry to conclude that the estimated $20 million Woods receives from Nike to endorse their products will rate as a bargain by the end of the summer.
"It's like out of a movie the way it played out, and Nike could not have written a better script," said Marc Ganis of Chicago-based SportsCorp, a sports marketing firm. "You had, No. 1, brand awareness. No. 2, you'll have people who want to be like Tiger. And No. 3, people will recognize that they have to have that ball because it's pretty cool."
Woods started using the ball, designed by buddy and Nike director of product development Rock Ishii, for the first time in January as discreetly as the world's most famous athlete can do anything after switching over from another Nike model. Woods has hit Nike balls since switching from Titleist in 1999.
When he won the Buick Invitational at Doral and hit a 3-wood 290 yards to set up an eagle that was his most impressive shot of the year until the 16th at the Masters, the secret started getting out about One Platinum.
Ishii's research promised the redesigned ball would provide the perfect complement to Woods' newer, bigger Nike driver and add a higher trajectory and more yards off the tee, as well as give Woods more control around the green to "get creative," according to an online description of the product.
Masters Sunday forever redefined creative in the glossary of golf shot-making.
It was as if the ball had followed Woods' exact directions into PGA history: Land 25 feet left of the hole, make a hard right turn, roll perfectly and pause on the lip of the cup long enough to show the world the company trademark, and go in. It was as if someone had finally manufactured a golf ball that listened, and each of the ball's 408 dimples were ears and obeyed Woods and every other Tiger fan as they mouthed to themselves, "Go in, go in, go in."
"It was exciting in many different ways. It was exciting because it was a great moment in sports, and we always celebrate great moments in sports," Nike Golf spokeswoman Joani Komlos said. "It was exciting because it was a great moment for a member of the Nike family and it was exciting because it was a great moment for a part of our business that we're very proud of."
"Great for Tiger," Mike said. "Great for us."
Nike seems to have a knack for hooking up with the right athletes at the right time.
When Brandi Chastain doffed her jersey after the U.S. Women's soccer team won the World Cup back in 1999, the sports bra splashed across newspapers worldwide was itself stitched with the swoosh.
"The Shangri-La is always unforgettable moments in sports that are linked to your brand," said Paul Swangard, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
"This was one of those moments."
It reminded Ganis of when Easton Corp., signed Los Angeles Kings center Wayne Gretzky in 1989 to promote a revolutionary aluminum hockey stick to replace the traditional wooden model. After Gretzky's first season with the new stick, sales jumped 30 percent. Every kid with skates wanted to buy what worked for "the Great One."
Similarly, after the Masters, Woods made the One Platinum appeal to duffers everywhere as souvenirs as much as course necessities.
"In golf, you can absolutely say equipment can make a difference between winning and losing, and the story for us is the effect of Tiger's new technology on his game," Mike said. "It was the best product testimonial you could have asked for. Unforgettable."
To make sure, Nike has a new commercial for One Platinum. The opening scene is from a shot every serious golf fan has seen before but figures never to see again.