Rory McIlroy tops list of Britain’s richest sports stars

Despite not winning any major golf tournaments last year, Rory McIlroy still increased his fortune by £28m to £110m and became Britain’s richest sports star.

The 29-year-old Northern Irish golfer overtook Sir Andy Murray and Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale, after signing a string of sponsorship deals including a $100m (£74m) 10-year contract to wear Nike clothing and a $100m agreement to use TaylorMade’s clubs, bags and balls for a decade.

Of the top 20 highest earning sportspeople, 15 are footballers. There are no women on the list.

McIlroy’s corporate deals came despite a difficult year on the fairway, with him failing to win any major tournaments in 2017. McIlroy, who became the second-youngest player to ever be ranked as the world’s number one golfer in 2012, has since fallen to eighth, and placed fifth at the US Masters last month.

McIlroy has three major championships in his sights for the remainder of 2018, but first comes this weekend’s Players Championship, the biggest tournament on the PGA Tour and one at which victory has eluded him.

The four-time major winner is selling a mansion in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for $12.9m (£9.5m). If he achieves the asking price he will have made a $3.4m profit on the $9.5m he paid for it in 2013. The six bed, nine bathroom waterfront home boasts a gym, pool and putting green. McIlroy is moving into the former home of South African golfer Ernie Els a short drive away.

McIlroy, who was born in Hollywood, Northern Ireland, married American publicist Erica Stoll in front of celebrity guests including Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin, 50 Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan and One Direction’s Niall Horan at Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, last year.

Murray takes second place in the Sunday Times Rich List ranking of UK-based sports stars with an £83m fortune, up £6m on last year. The Rich List’s authors said Murray’s modest increase in wealth reflects his absence from the courts due to the hip injury he succumbed to at Wimbledon last year.

His on-court earnings fell to $2m last year compared to $16.3m in 2016, when he won his second Wimbledon title and was world number one for the first time. Murray is currently ranked 38th in the tennis world, and has lost the British number one spot to 23-year-old Kyle Edmunds. However, the Scot has been raking it in from sponsorship deals with Under Armour, Head, Standard Life and Jaguar.

Bale takes third place with £74m (a £20m increase on last year), and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is fourth with £48m. Boxer Anthony Joshua is the fifth richest with a £35m fortune, but is forecast to rise up the rankings next year.

The world heavyweight champion has won 20 of his 21 professional fights by a knockout and his wealth has risen by £20m since 2016. He earned £18m for his title bout with Joseph Parker in Cardiff in March, when he added the World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt to the three he already held.

His agent, Barry Hearn, has boasted that Joshua will become the first billionaire boxer. “His commercial potential outside the ring is huge, way beyond Beckham and the world’s top footballers,” Hearn said. “He has a much bigger cross-over in terms of potential.”