Tiger Woods, Most Searched Athlete

He may be Athlete of the Decade, but Tiger Woods’ off-course prowess is what has landed him the title of Most Searched Athlete of 2009 on Yahoo!.

Before Thanksgiving, Woods barely made the top 20 list, which is about the same position he had in 2008. Then, his smashed Cadillac SUV turned out to be the lead car in a parade of revelations, with anywhere from 8 to 10 women emerging from the woodwork.

In the Web pursuit of Tiger Woods, December searches for “tiger woods” gallivanted up 6,930% compared to November. That’s not counting keyword lookups like “tiger woods wife” (+17,958%), “tiger woods earl woods” (+11,844%), and breakout searches for “accenture tiger woods,” “al sharpton on tiger woods,” “best tiger woods jokes,” “how much is tiger woods worth,” “pictures of tiger woods kids,” “saturday night live tiger woods,” “tiger woods mistress count,” and about 240 other Tiger-related terms. He not only elbowed aside boxing champ Manny Pacquiao for the top athlete Search spot, but he also thumped Web team favorites like the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Yankees, and the Dallas Cowboys.

And the searches continue this week, as the latest headlines go from lurid details to criticism about Woods’ handling of the whole affair (that is, the public relations aspect). For people wondering “where is tiger woods today“: As his wife, Elin Nordegren, heads to Sweden with the kids in tow (including baby Charlie Axel, born just this February), Woods reportedly has taken to the seas to evaluate his life crisis, on his now-ironically named yacht Privacy.

Tiger’s timing has overshadowed not just the golf stories of ’09, but also the sports world as well. The year 2009 turned out to be a mighty big one, what with the rise of MMA (including Gina Carano making sports-TV history) and the Williams sisters’ hot streak. But perhaps the greatest of all among this year’s top athletes: the rise of boxer Manny Pacquiao, who steadily vanquished weight class after weight class (seven in all) and may (or may not) face retired WBC welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Check out the list of the athletes who incited a Web frenzy this year.

Yahoo! Top Searched Athletes of 2009

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Maria Sharapova
  4. Danica Patrick
  5. Gina Carano
  6. Anna Kournikova
  7. Serena Williams
  8. Natalie Gulbis
  9. Amanda Beard
  10. Michael Phelps