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Nike hopes Woods win will boost golf ball sales

Updated:
BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — Tiger Woods kept his eye on the ball. So did executives at Nike Golf, but for different reasons.

``Watching this weekend, we lived and died with every shot,'' said Mike Kelly, marketing director of Nike Golf, which makes the ball Woods used to win the 100th U.S. Open by a record-breaking 15 strokes at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

Woods' victory was by the largest margin in any of golf's major championships, breaking the mark set by Old Tom Morris in the British Open in 1862.

By using the Nike golf ball Woods turned his sponsor into a major industry player almost overnight. The company, which only has 1 percent of the ball market share, has been flooded with calls from players who want to test the ball and retailers who want to sell it.

``Obviously putting such a historical moment into context is our next goal,'' Kelly said Monday. ``Both golfers and nongolfers saw what happened, now it's our job to leverage that into a commercial success.''

The Tour Accuracy is a multilayered ball that spins less, giving players more consistency and more options around the green. The multilayered construction breaks tradition with once-preferred wound balls.

Woods said the wound ball tended to peak a little more in flight, while multilayered balls were more likely to be a little more flat.

``It allows him to be much more creative around the greens and hit more shots around the greens,'' Bob Wood, president of Nike Golf, told CNN. ``This ball flies through the wind very, very well — and that had something to do with his decision to switch before the majors.''

Woods began testing the Nike balls earlier this year while at home in Florida. He put the Nike ball in play for the first time in a tournament in Germany, and used it to cruise to a five-stroke victory at the Memorial in late May.

But it wasn't until two weeks before the U.S. Open that he formally switched from using Titleist golf balls to the Nike ball.

Woods' decision ended a marketing conflict between his top two golf sponsors that began last year when Nike entered the ball market. Instead of filing a lawsuit, Titleist reworked Woods' deal so that he was paid only when he used Titleist equipment in tournaments.

Nike took advantage of the switch by putting together an advertising campaign explaining the switch that was aired throughout NBC's broadcast of the U.S. Open.

Kelly said it would be difficult to top the exposure it got every time the camera focused on Woods' ball, with the Nike trademark swoosh, during the tournament. But it may consider producing new commercials with Woods next year.

In the meantime, it has updated its Web site, and rejiggered print advertisements going out this week that emphasize Woods' decision to switch to Tour Accuracy. And, it is focusing on distributing the ball and other golf merchandise at on-course golf shops in addition to those off-course.

Woods' use of the Nike golf ball gave no immediate boost to the company's stock.

Nike stock, which fell 68.7 cents Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, was down an additional 81.3 cents at $35.75 Tuesday morning
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