Tiger still top earner, but only just

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Phil Mickelson is getting close to toppling Tiger Woods as sport’s highest earner according to Sports Illustrated.

Phil Mickelson is getting close to toppling Tiger Woods as sport’s highest earner according to an annual survey released by Sports Illustrated on Thursday.

Woods, whose sky-high image was damaged by the sex scandal which erupted around him some 18 months ago, remained the top earner for the eighth year in a row, but his total earnings from winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees dropped 31 percent in the 2011 survey to $62.3m while Mickelson’s remained steady at $61.2m.

Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer, owner of a record 16 grand slam titles, led the biggest money earners among the non-Americans on the list and was followed closely by Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Of the Americans, the NBA’s LeBron James ($44.5m), the NFL’s Peyton Manning ($38m) and Major League Baseball’s Alex Rodriguez ($36m) rounded out the top five.

Federer kept his top position among non-U.S. athletes despite slipping 14.5 percent to $52.8 million and into third place behind Woods and Mickeslon on the overall list, while WBO welterweight champion Pacquiao’s earnings surged 38 percent higher to $52.5 million for fourth overall.

Spanish Formula One driver Fernando Alonso ($45 million), Barcelona’s Lionel Messi ($43.8 million) and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo ($38.8 million) were fifth sixth and seventh on the overall list and 3rd, 4th and 5th among the non-Americans.

The magazine bases its annual figures on salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearance fees.

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