Tiger Woods heads Forbes rich list again after 'love rat' hiatus

Tiger Woods wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

Golfer earns $78.1m in 2012 to top the wealth list he dominated for 11 consecutive years

LAST UPDATED AT 11:08 ON Fri 7 Jun 2013

WHO SAYS cheats never prosper? Tiger Woods, whose career and image went into a nosedive after he was discovered to be cheating on his wife, today heads the new Forbes list of the world's 100 highest paid athletes.

The 37-year-old golfer tops the Forbes leader-board after taking home $78.1 million last year, the bulk coming from endorsement deals totalling $65 million. The rest - $13.1 million - he won on the course as he showed glimpses of the form he displayed before his world imploded in December 2009.

That was when Woods was exposed as a serial womaniser. He and his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, subsequently divorced and the hoo-ha had a knock-on effect on his earnings.

Having topped the Forbes rich list for 11 consecutive years, Woods was ousted from the top spot in 2012 by tennis ace Roger Federer, the Swiss star exuding an altogether more wholesome image than the two-timing Tiger.

But Woods swears he's now a changed man. He's been stepping out with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and the lovebirds are regulars on the celebrity circuit, even gracing the annual ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Federer slips to second on the list, netting $71.5m last year, while third is basketball's Kobe Bryant whose earnings were $61.9m.

The highest Briton – and footballer – to feature on the rich list is David Beckham in eighth spot. The 38-year-old, who announced his retirement last month, won't have to fret too much about paying the gas bills in his dotage: last year Becks banked $47.2m, all but $5.2m coming from endorsements.

Ninth is Cristiano Ronaldo on $44m, the Real Madrid star ranking one place above Lionel Messi of Barcelona, who earned $41.3m last year.

Only three female athletes make the list. Tennis star Maria Sharapova is best placed at 22nd having earned $29m. She could improve her bank balance further if she beats Serena Williams tomorrow in the final of the French Open. · 

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