Devil Ball Golf - Golf

Tiger Woods announced he will sit out his own eventThere's an old Chris Rock joke about the financial impact of divorce, which runs something like this: When you've got $20 million, a divorce settlement that takes half your income isn't so devastating. When you've got $30,000, however ...

Tiger Woods has made more than $30,00 per putt; he's one of the few athletes in the billion-dollar earnings range. But a costly divorce and the disappearance of many of the endorsements that provided him with up to 90 percent of his income have Fortune magazine wondering whether Woods might be hurting for cash. (To add insult to injury, his ex-wife reportedly has a new boyfriend; see below).

Woods' agent Mark Steinberg vehemently denies any such problems. "Tiger Woods is financially sound and strong, contrary to wide-ranging rumors and inaccurate figures in the media," Steinberg told Fortune in an email. "Stating anything else is incorrect and factually baseless."

Still, Fortune does trot out some undeniable facts, as well as reasonable estimates. The PGA Tour notes that Woods has "only" won $571,000 this year, as compared with $10.9 million in 2007, $5.8 million in 2008 and $10.4 million in 2009, the last season before his transgressions became known. Woods earned $1.3 million on the course in 2010.

But it's in the public-image arena where Woods has made most of his coin, and he's now down to just three sponsors: Nike, EA Sports (creators of his video game) and Kowa, a new Japanese sponsor. However, a Fortune source says that Woods' Nike money dropped from $20 million to $10 million in 2010, a Nike "penalty" for his actions. Earlier this spring, Woods left longtime agency IMG, and Fortune reports that "IMG was none too broken up about losing Woods, because his endorsement earnings have fallen so dramatically."

Fortune notes that Woods has recent estimated debts of at least $160 million, between his divorce settlement and his new Florida home. And while Steinberg said there was no debt on the home, Fortune reports that the mortgage has not yet been paid off.

Certainly, Woods has substantial debt, but he's also got phenomenal earning potential; a few more wins on the golf course would turn his still-battered public image around immediately. However, he's missed the last two majors, including this week's British Open, and hasn't played effectively since the Masters in April.

So, in possibly related news, there's also a rumor passed along by noted golf scribe Alan Shipnuck, who indicated Friday morning that Woods could return to the course as soon as later this month, playing in two preliminary events to prepare for the PGA Championship. Now, it's unlikely those tournament purses will make much of a dent in Woods' financial situation; for the rest of us, that'd be the equivalent of mowing a couple lawns. But the sooner Woods gets back to his winning ways, the sooner the checks with more zeroes start flowing in.

And, of course, that will bring in renewed scrutiny of his private life. (Golf fans, feel free to punch out right here.) The New York Post, in a report you should take with a shakerful of salt, is reporting that Woods' ex-wife Elin is now dating Jamie Dingman, an American investor and onetime IndyCar owner. He's a former beau of Bridget Moynahan and he splits time between China and Sweden and the U.S., and you know what? This is bringing back memories of HydrantGate, so we'll stop there except to note one tidbit:

According to a Post source, Dingman doesn't play golf. Good thing; you never want your ladyfriend measuring you against her ex.

Is Tiger Woods running out of money? [CNN/Fortune]

-Golf is more fun when you laugh. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @jaybusbee and we'll keep you smiling. You bring the beverages.-

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