Woods Still The Game's Biggest Earner Despite 2010 Woes

The American world number two, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday, topped Golf Digest magazine’s annual list for 2010 with overall earnings of US$74.2 million.

Of that, only US$2.29 million came from tournament purses with the rest accumulated off-course through endorsements and appearance fees.

Fellow American Phil Mickelson was second with total earnings of US$40.18 million, followed by Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman fourth and Jack Nicklaus fifth.

Jim Furyk, who collected a US$10 million bonus for winning the PGA Tour’s season-long FedExCup in September, was sixth on $23.58 million.

Other players featuring in the top 50 included South Africans Ernie Els seventh and Gary Player eighth, Britain’s Lee Westwood ninth and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.

Overall earnings were compiled by Golf Digest through interviews with agents, players, executives of companies involved with endorsements, industry analysts and also via the official money lists of the leading professional tours.

In 2009, Woods led the standings with a mind-boggling $121.9 million but his earnings have dipped following his unexpected fall from grace after being engulfed by a sex scandal.

The 14-times major champion spent much of 2010 unsuccessfully trying to repair his marriage and also undergoing the fourth swing change of his career.

His troubles led such firms as AT&T and Accenture to end sponsorship deals, costing Woods up to $35 million in annual revenue.

He ended his PGA Tour season without a single title for the first time since he turned professional in 1996 and was deposed as world number one by Britain’s Lee Westwood on November 1.

However, since Woods joined forces with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley after the PGA Championship in August, his form has steadily improved and he remains the biggest drawcard in the game.

He is still paid more than $60 million annually by Nike, Electronic Arts, Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets unit, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Tag Heuer, Upper Deck and TLC Laser Vision Centers. Reuters