Woods losing grip atop list of highest-earning athletes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is making a run at surpassing fellow golfer Tiger Woods as the top-earning U.S. athlete, according to an annual survey released by Sports Illustrated on Thursday.

Woods, whose image was tarnished by a sex scandal, was the top earner for the eighth consecutive year but his winnings and endorsements dropped 31 percent in the 2011 survey to $62.3 million while Mickelson remained steady at $61.2 million.

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

Federer kept his top position among non-U.S. athletes despite slipping 14.5 percent to $52.8 million, third overall, while WBO welterweight champion Pacquiao shot 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) rounded out the top five on the international list.

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

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh; Editing by Frank Pingue)