Woods goes in loaded for 2011

Despite a pay cut of $48 million and failing to win a single tournament, Tiger Woods was golf’s top earner in 2010.

Woods’ earnings took a dent after losing his swing and his marriage but he still managed to make $74.2mil.

The American world number two, who surrendered his top ranking to England’s Lee Westwood months ago, received just $2.29m from tournament purses. The bulk of his income came through endorsements and appearance fees.

Woods, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday, was down from a staggering $121.9m in 2009 after he was engulfed by a sex scandal. The furore caused firms such as Accenture and Procter and Gamble’s Gillette to end sponsorship deals with the 14-time major champion, costing him up to $35m in annual revenue.

Woods is however, still paid more than $60mil per year by Nike, Electronic Arts and Louis Vuitton’s Tag Heuer among others. Last year he became the first sportsman to reach one billion dollars in career endorsement and prize money. He was named the player to watch by the PGA for 2011 in spite of being losing his world number one ranking after 281 straight weeks or roughly 12 years in the top spot.

Fellow American Phil Mickelson was second to Woods in 2010 with total earnings of $40.18mil. The rest of the top five saw Arnold Palmer ($36mil), Greg Norman ($30mil) and Jack Nicklaus ($25.17mil). Other players featured in the top 50 include South Africans Ernie Els seventh ($21.5mil) and Gary Player ($15.01mil), Britain’s Lee Westwood ($14.73mil) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington ($11.61mil).

Woods, a 14-time major champion, continues to chase the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus.

That alone he states will make him the focus of a new golf season that begins shortly.

Woods will not play for at least a month as he will make his 2011 debut in February’s Dubai Desert Classic. He states he is looking forward to putting 2010 behind him.

“As a golfer, I learned so much more this year than any other year and as a person, infinitely more,”

Woods said. “So it’s been a very successful year, even though it was a very painful year, as well. I’m excited about facing tomorrow.”