LIV Golf Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla resigns from organization
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LIV Golf Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla resigns from organization

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LIV Golf has lost the executive ostensibly hired to guide the Saudi-backed golf tour into an era of franchise owners and heavy sponsor involvement.

Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla has resigned from LIV Golf, according to the New York Times, after a little more than a year in the organization. LIV Golf is yet to offer public comment on Khosla's resignation, though the Times reports players and others in the organization were made aware earlier in the week of his intention to step down from his role.

Khosla, who has an executive-level background in sports marketing and business development, was brought in to help build up LIV Golf's franchise model. The tour hopes to find buyers for each of the 12 teams it has created for its 48-player LIV Golf league it intends to start in 2023. Players leading each of the teams are said to have a sizable stake in their ownership, and there is the stated goal of selling control of these teams to investors and sponsors that would serve as owners.

LIV Golf has struggled, however, to gain mainstream acceptance in golf and develop its business model. LIV Golf did not have a United States television deal for it eight-event Invitational Series, instead streaming on multiple social services and their website. Viewership for those streams fell throughout the course of the season. Sponsors have not flocked to the product, and many golf fans continue to perceive LIV Golf negatively.

However, LIV Golf has managed to sign many of the world's best golfers to their tour featuring 54-hole, no-cut events. Those players have made millions in up-front (in some cases, as an advance) payments and from tournament earnings. The players, though, do not earn Official World Golf Ranking points for their finishes, and many LIV players will be effectively locked out of the major championships moving forward unless they choose to pursue qualifying avenues specifically for the US Open and the Open Championship.

There have been long-running rumors that LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman would be replaced in his role and either ousted from the company entirely or moved to a Chairman position. LIV Golf has vehemently denied those rumors, with parallel whispers that former TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King, currently CEO of Taco Bell, would take over for Norman in the role.

Norman, however, has been largely perceived to outsiders as not having full control over day-to-day operations of the tour. Rather, the two-time major winner is perceived as, in some ways, a figurehead leader who handles a variety of decisions but is overseen by Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, head of Saudi Public Investment Fund.

According to court filings made by the PGA Tour as a defendant in an antitrust lawsuit against LIV Golf, the Public Investment Fund owns 85 percent of LIV Golf. The PGA Tour has sought documents from Al-Rumayyan and the Public Investment Fund related to its involvement in LIV decision-making and recruiting of players.

The PIF and Al-Rumayyan have fought the Tour seeking a court order to produce documents.

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Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

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