By Carlo Versano and Chloe Aiello
Tiger Woods powered his way to one of the most astonishing and emotional comebacks in professional sports history on Sunday at Augusta National wearing his signature Nike threads and swinging TaylorMade golf clubs.
As he approached the 18th green, two putts away from his fifth Masters championship, both of Woods' sponsors were ready to cash in.
Nike's minute-long commercial celebrating Woods's unlikely triumph was shown on CBS moments after the golfer's victorious yelp. And TaylorMade was gearing up for a spike in demand for the same irons and drivers he used to propel himself to his 15th major title ー and first in 11 years.
"Nike had him from the beginning," said Jeff Ritter, digital development editor at Golf magazine. "To do it still wearing the swoosh ー there's value in that" for the sportswear powerhouse.
TaylorMade, which stepped in to sponsor Woods after Nike stopped making golf clubs, signed the golfer to a multi-year endorsement deal in 2017, mere months before he underwent a risky spinal surgery. The bet paid off on Sunday after Woods secured the win with TaylorMade irons and a driver in his bag.
"We anticipate a pretty good lift in sales as a result of Tiger playing our irons," the TaylorMade CEO David Abeles told Cheddar.
He said phone orders at the company's call center had almost tripled Monday over the previous week, and traffic on the TaylorMade website was doubled what it was last year at this time.
Abeles said he anticipates Woods and other TaylorMade golfers, including Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, to "compete much like they did at Augusta and give us a good chance to win" when the PGA Championship comes to Bethpage, N.Y., in May.
Nike ($NKE) shares were up about 700 percent since Woods' last win at Augusta, back in April 2005. Since then, Nike stopped making golf equipment, but stuck with golf apparel and the Tiger Woods brand ー leading to a payoff worth $22.5 million in exposure during Sunday's final round, according to the analytics firm Apex Marketing.
Ratings for this year's Masters were up five percent from last year's tournament, CBS announced.
Ritter said: "Tiger doesn't just move the needle. He is the needle."
Woods' return to the top of the leaderboard just as the season kicks off is "enormous" for the game golf, Ritter said.
"It really is a comeback story that I think rivals anything that's ever been written, not just in golf but in all of sports."