Though calls for Greg Norman to step aside as the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf have gone unheeded thus far, another top executive from the Saudi-backed series has resigned his post, reportedly after a “heated exchange” following the upstart circuit’s final event of the year in Miami.
Atul Khosla, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive who was hired to be the chief operating officer of LIV Golf and was expected to lead the upstart series onto stronger financial footing in 2023, resigned after one year as the Saudi-backed league moves toward a 12-team format in which players and LIV would all have equity, The New York Times was first to report.
Norman confirmed the news in a statement to the Times. “At the conclusion of LIV’s successful inaugural season, Atul Khosla decided to move on,” he said. “We respect A.K. and his personal decision.”
According to The Telegraph, Khosla’s resignation came after an intense argument with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of LIV Golf’s benefactor, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. “It has since been learned that at the concluding LIV event of this year’s eight-tournament series, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund that is bankrolling the breakaway league, gathered the executive and in a heated exchanged left the room in no doubt that greater inroads were expected,” The Telegraph reported. Khosla resigned from his position soon afterward and players and agents were told last week.
In the wake of the news about Khosla, Norman continued to speak to media members over the weekend and bragged that he had spoken to Justin Thomas about defecting from the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. Norman, conveniently, did not mention when or where the conversation took place
“I mean, we talked to JT. Me and another member of my team, we sat down with him and gave him the full presentation and, if you notice, he’s not said much negative about what we’re doing, presumably because he knows it and understands it,” Norman told Bunkered magazine. “Our door is open for everybody. We’re not the PGA Tour. We’re not like that. We exist for the players, so we will always have an open door, whether that’s for Rory or Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas or whoever.”
The 67-year-old can say whatever he wants (and continues to do so), but don’t expect McIlroy, Spieth or Thomas to be waking through LIV’s door as long as Norman is in charge of the series.