Atul Khosla has resigned from his role as chief operating officer of LIV Golf, the Saudi Arabian state-backed breakaway circuit’s chief executive Greg Norman confirmed.
In a statement shared with the New York Times (NYT), Norman said: ‘At the conclusion of LIV’s successful inaugural season, Atul Khosla decided to move on.
‘We respect [Atul Khosla] and his personal decision.’
Khosla’s departure after just one season follows a recent NYT report that says LIV Golf remains a long way short of optimistic pre-launch projections and will not be commercially viable any time soon. Whoever succeeds the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive will be tasked with managing LIV’s expanded 14-tournament calendar next year, with new events in Spain, Mexico and Singapore.
Long before LIV Golf teed up its first event last June, consultancy firm McKinsey & Company drew up a best-case strategy, which has now been shared by the NYT. In order to succeed long-term, the reported strategy documents revealed the breakaway series would need to sign up all of the world’s 12 best golfers, as well as securing sponsorship and media rights deals without ‘significant retaliation’ from the PGA Tour. It is fair to say this has not happened so far.
As things stand, LIV has signed up four of the players reportedly listed in the McKinsey documents – Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. While Cameron Smith is now the only player ranked in the world’s top ten playing in the LIV series, with the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy having rejected Saudi overtures, instead offering vociferous support for the PGA Tour.
Khosal becomes the latest senior executive to step away from LIV Golf after just a short stint with the business. Sean Bratches, the former Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, abruptly resigned as the golf organisation’s chief commercial officer in May, just five months into the role, after Norman sparked controversy when he attempted to dismiss questions over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate as a “mistake”.