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Struggles or not, Tiger still tops in earnings

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By Doug Ferguson
AP Golf Writer
 

For his golf, Tiger Woods was about to fall out of the top 10 in the world for the first time in 14 years. For his star power, he still ranks ahead of any other athlete.
Woods, whose last win came 18 months ago at the Australian Masters, dropped from elite status in the next world ranking published Monday. It is the first time he is out of the top 10 since he was No. 13 on April 6, 1997, the week before he won the Masters for the first of his 14 majors.
Forbes, meanwhile, says he’s still the No. 1 celebrity in the sports world.
Woods checks in at No. 6 on Forbes’ annual “Celebrity 100” list of the most powerful people or groups in the entertainment business. Lady Gaga tops the overall rankings, followed by Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, U2 and Elton John.
Miami Heat star LeBron James is the second-ranked athlete behind Woods at No. 10. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is No. 14.
Forbes estimated Woods’ total earnings last year to be $75 million, making him the highest-paid athlete. The magazine put Bryant’s earnings for the last 12 months at $53 million, followed by James at $48 million and four-time major winner Phil Mickelson at $47 million.
Woods won’t be able to improve on his golf ranking anytime soon.
He started the year at No. 2 and has been steadily dropping points. Woods, who tied for fourth at the Masters last month, withdrew from The Players Championship last week because of injuries to his left knee and left Achilles. He said on his Web site that he will try to return June 16-19 at the U.S. Open.
“I’ll do whatever is necessary to play in the U.S. Open, and I’m hopeful I can be there to compete,” he said.
Woods has been atop the world ranking for 623 weeks in his career, by far the longest of any golfer since the ranking began in 1986. He had been No. 1 from June 2005 until Lee Westwood of England supplanted him last November.