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Thursday, August 26, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sideline Chatter

That Tiger Woods TV Commercial? Honest, It Really Happened That Way

Have you seen that television commercial in which Tiger Woods repeatedly bounces a golf ball with a pitching wedge, then whacks it baseball style?

The ad has been airing since June 16, but a lot of golf fans still don't believe it's authentic.

Woods says he really did bounce the ball continuously for about 28 seconds - in front of him, between his legs, behind his back and in front again - before popping it high in the air, then swatting it a la Ken Griffey Jr.

No trick photography or videotape splicing was necessary.

"It's real," he said. "Trust me."

The commercial happened by accident. Producers were taping another Nike commercial, the one that shows Woods on a driving range with other golfers, hitting shots in sequence.

Woods said the taping took hours. During one long wait, he decided to entertain the other golfers with his wedge-and-ball trick.

"I was basically putting on an exhibition, just trying to pass the time," Woods said. The director said, `You know, why don't we just film this?' "

Woods was told that, for a 30-second commercial, his juggling routine needed to be 28 seconds. But during each of the first three takes, the director would interrupt with, "You've got 10 seconds." Each time, Woods said, "I'd shank it right away."

Before the fourth take, Woods told the director to wait until five seconds remained to say anything. Take No. 4 was a keeper.

$90 million? Nike denies it

Nike says it is talking to keep Woods in its celebrity endorsement stable, but the shoe giant denies reports it's talking $90 million.

"We obviously want to continue our relationship with Tiger Woods for a long, long time," said Nike spokesman Mike Kelly. "He's one of our premier athletes."

Golf World Magazine initially broke the story of the Nike talks with Woods, whose contract with the Beaverton-based athletic shoe and clothing maker is good for another two years. The magazine reported that Nike had agreed to fatten the contract from $8 million a year to between $16 million and $18 million a year for five years.

"The reported numbers in the release are definitely not reflective of current market conditions," Kelly said.

Hit it where they ain't, please

An International League game between Pawtucket and Scranton was halted temporarily when two skunks wandered onto the baseball diamond and headed for right field. When the skunks wouldn't leave, play was resumed, to the dismay of Scranton outfielders.

Before anyone hit toward them, however, the skunks finally were coaxed onto a golf cart and driven away. No word on the fate of the cart driver.

It's a fact

-- Southeast Conference football stadiums were filled to 99.64-percent capacity in 1998. The average SEC crowd was 69,309. Tennessee topped the list at 106,914 per game.

They wrote it

-- Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News, on the Dallas Mavericks using a second-round draft pick on Wang Zhizhi of China: "That's pronounced Wong Zhu-Zhu, which translates (rather unfortunately) to "Huge Stiff Who Dunks on Short Reformed Maoists."

-- Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune: "The prospect of (Mark) McGwire's 500th home run and Tony Gwynn's 3,000th hit coming in the same game was baseball's greatest set of milestones since Eric Gregg and Bruce Froemming passed up dessert."

They said it

-- Minnesota infielder Denny Hocking, on playing at Yankee Stadium: "You'll see a dozen 7-year-olds flipping you the bird. It makes you wonder about the youth of America."

-- Bobby Smith, general manager, Phoenix Coyotes, asked what he said when NHL agent Paul Kraus kept upping the ante for the return of forward Robert Reichel: "I told him to lose my phone number."

-- Defensive coordinator Dave Campo, Dallas Cowboys, after Michael Irvin ran past several defenders on a training-camp pass play: "I know the sun is shining, but that doesn't mean it's your vacation."

-- Arizona first baseman Travis Lee, who will be out six weeks after straining ligaments in his left ankle while shagging fly balls in the outfield before a recent game: "When you hear some shredding noise in there, you know right away it's not good."

Compiled by Chuck Ashmun, The Seattle Times

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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