Tiger WoodsThere’s no question pro-golfer Tiger Woods is a major success story, but did you ever think he’d be on his way to becoming a billionaire? We didn’t.

According to Forbes, the 32-year-old is on track to pass $1 billion in career earnings by 2010. However, becoming an actual billionaire will take slightly longer because that would mean he would have net worth of above $1 billion.

In the next few years, his earnings would make him the world’s first billionaire athlete. He turned pro in 1996.

In 2007, Forbes estimated that Woods pulled in nearly $115 million, $65 million more than athlete runner-up David Beckham.

The mag says he is expected to join the world’s billionaires list by 2011. The feat would be unprecedented. To date, there has been no athlete to build a billionaire fortune from actually playing sports.

To give you an example of the kind of money-making power Woods holds, check this out. When Nike signed Woods to an endorsement deal in 1996, it didn’t have a separate golf unit. Two years after inking a deal with the gold prodigy, it launched one in 1998, with Woods at the center of its marketing push. Last year, Nike Golf posted over $600 million in sales. It is now the biggest golf apparel company in the world.

“He built Nike Golf,” Scott Sanford, a senior director at the marketing company Davie Brown Talent, told Forbes. “When you show the best golfer in the world using certain balls, irons, apparel — viewers want to use the same equipment. No other athlete could have built up the brand at the rate he did.”