Tiger Woods may be the early odds-on favorite to win next month’s British Open, but the 14-time major champ is no longer the planet’s highest-paid athlete, according to Forbes’ July 18 register of the 100 most generously compensated sports figures in the world.
Despite Woods’ tough finish at last week’s U.S. Open, the wise guys at Las Vegas Sports Betting have already installed Woods as a 6-to-1 favorite to win The Open Championship, which starts July 19 at Royal Lytham in Lancashire, England. Lee Westwood, who tied for 10th at last week’s major, four strokes back of winner Webb Simpson, comes in second, at 11-to-1, with the struggling Rory McIlroy and world No. 1 Luke Donald on the roster at 12-to-1 and 14-to-1, respectively.
Simpson, the last man standing after Jim Furyk’s 5-Hour Energy went flat down the stretch on the challenging Olympic Club track, was a 40-to-1 long shot to hoist his second straight trophy, although he may skip the Brit’s national bout to be with his wife, who’s scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child in about six weeks. Furyk faced similar odds, according to the oddsmakers.
Woods, of course, is everybody’s perennial fave to win a major, and his first two rounds in San Francisco gave his fans -- and the money boys -- something to cheer about. His closing 75 and 73, however, not so much.
On the money front, Woods dropped from the top spot among the world’s highest paid athletes for the first time since 2001, losing the No. 1 ranking to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather’s total paycheck entered the ring at $85 million in earnings for the past year -- $25.6 million higher than Woods’ measly $59.4 mil.
In fact, Woods, who earned $16 million less than he did last year, dipped to third on the bread-winner’s totem pole, lagging the $62 million that sweet science enthusiast Manny Pacquiao raked in. The current No. 4 on the rankings leaderboard is playing better all-around golf than he was last year, which accounts for two wins and double the amount he’s collected on the course.
But, Forbes noted, a boost in prize money has not made up for losing sponsors like AT&T, Gillette, and other erstwhile Tiger touters. The publisher also pointed out that Woods’ golf course design business has pretty much tanked, with his Dubai course sent to the bench in 2011 and the developer of his North Carolina track filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.
Four other golfers made Forbes’ cut as well. Phil Mickelson clocked in at No. 7 with $47.8 million, and Donald was 48th by Forbes’ accounting standards. The Englishman, who made $22.2 million, may be the top-ranked male golfer but he just doesn’t create the buzz of his American counterparts.
Ernie Els and McIlroy, each of whom pocketed $17.4 million, rounded out Forbes’ roster of golfers, at 91. The Big Easy, who was in contention last week, made $16 million from endorsements, while the 2011 U.S. Open champ pocketed $10.4 million in prize money. Last year’s can’t-miss kid may be among Forbes' “most marketable young stars,” but the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland has scuffled on the field of late. McIlroy's recent resume includes three cuts, including an early exit from his would-be title defense last week.