New York:Tiger Woods is on pace to pass one billion dollars in career earning by 2010, becoming the world's first billionaire to accumulate his fortune by playing sports, says Forbes Magazine.
The 14-time major championship winner earned 115 million dollars in 2007 alone, said the American magazine, which annually ranks the world's richest people with its Forbes' Celebrity 100 list. English footballer David Beckham was the No 2 sportsman on the list with earnings of 65 million dollars.
"It will be an unprecedented occurrence," the magazine said. "There are plenty of billionaires who have excelled at sports like Switzerland's richest man and champion sailor Ernesto Bertarelli. But there are no billionaires who accumulated their fortune by playing sports."
The magazine goes on to say in its Wednesday edition that while tycoons like Bill Gates accumulated his wealth by holding a stake in a company with soaring profits, Woods is unique because his massive fortune was earned through pay cheques.
Woods is a sports marketers' dream, having earned more than 750 million dollars in endorsement deals to date in his career. At 32, Woods has won 50 tournaments faster than any player and is closing in on Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championship wins.
The nine-time PGA player-of-the-year is extremely popular and likeable. When he is playing in a tournament, television ratings increase by at least one third and often more -- like his recent stunning victory at the US Open in San Diego.
He has lucrative endorsement and sponsorship deals with companies like Nike, Buick and Gillette which help make up nine-tenths of his totals earnings and will land him 90 million dollars in 2008, says Forbes.
Nike Golf registered over 600 million dollars in sales in 2007. The American shoe giant didn't even have a golf line of shoes and clothing before it signed Woods to a contract in 1996.
Gatorade is also launching a new line of sports drinks, called Gatorade Tiger.
Woods is expected to miss the remainder of the golf season, while he recovers from knee surgery. He captured the 2008 US Open in a playoff despite playing with a torn ligament in his left knee.