LIV Golf Denies That Greg Norman's On The Way Out As CEO
On Thursday, the Telegraph ran a story claiming that LIV Golf is mulling the idea of pushing aside Greg Norman as CEO/commissioner in favor of Mark King, current Taco Bell CEO and the former chief of TaylorMade and Adidas.
The move make sense in theory—Norman's been something of a walking gaffe throughout this year, answering a question about the Jamal Khashoggi dismemberment with a version of "we all make mistakes" and telling me, back when I worked at Golf Digest, that he saw women in restaurants in Saudi Arabia so things can't be all that bad. Norman is brash. He's in your face. He doesn't act like a normal commissioner or executive. He has a camera crew follow him around during LIV events so he can post vlogs to his social media accounts.
And, perhaps most importantly, he has a serious bone to pick with the PGA Tour. Norman tried to spearhead a LIV-like league back in the 90s until then-PGA Tour commissioner and Arnold Palmer shut it down. That embarrassed Norman, who's long believed that golfers are underpaid, and he's had an axe to grind ever since.
Replacing him with a more…how should we say this…traditional business leader would add legitimacy to LIV. King's got one helluva resume, presiding over a massive increases in revenue for both TaylorMade and Adidas. And he didn't quell any rumors by telling the Fire Pit Collective last month that "in five years LIV Golf will be another tour among existing tours and that everybody will learn to get along."
If LIV does intend to eventually make peace with the PGA Tour—Norman has maintained they want to negotiate, but lawsuits are flying in both directions and the PGA Tour has shown precisely zero willingness to engage with LIV—King would figure to be a less antagonistic figure in those talks. Again, the move would make sense on a number of levels.
Only it's not going to happen, according to LIV.
"Greg Norman is our CEO and commissioner," Majed Al Sorour, the Managing Director of LIV Golf (and member of Prince Mohammed bin Salman's inner circle) said in a statement. "Any suggestion that changes are being made to Greg's title or role is patently false."
Makes sense. Yes, the move could work for all the reasons above, but this is Norman's baby. He's the face of LIV Golf, and he's played a massive role in luring over guys like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and his fellow Aussie Cameron Smith. His brashness fits right in with LIV's brand—in fact, you could argue he's shaped it—and he's kept LIV in the news, for better or for worse. Plus, having a former world No. 1 at the helm goes a long way toward branding LIV as a player-first league, which is one way they seek to differentiate themselves from the PGA Tour.
I did, however, get a kick out of this tweet from Greg Norman Jr.
Where was this energy when the LIV bots claimed Jon Rahm to LIV was 100% a done deal? Or just last week, when Xander Schauffele was signed, sealed, delivered?