LIV Golf have been in talks with former TaylorMade chief Mark King about becoming the Saudi-backed tour’s CEO, bumping Greg Norman out of the hotseat, according to a report.
King is said to have attended several events on the LIV circuit during its inaugural season and has now met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bankrolls the series, according to The Telegraph.
If LIV Golf does bring him in, King could reportedly replace Norman as CEO of the breakaway, with the Australian ‘moved upstairs’.
Furthermore, if the American does take charge at the helm of the rebel series, it could ruffle even more feathers among the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
The traditional tours have already made their opposition to LIV Golf quite clear with both introducing measures to combat the threat of the newcomer after it lured several of their big names away with eight-or-nine-figure offers.
However, King’s arrival on the scene could trigger more alarm bells given his previous success within the sport.
His time at TaylorMade, which produces equipment for the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Scottie Scheffler as well as LIV Golf rebels Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, saw sales grow from $300million to nearly $2billion.
He also served as president of sportswear brand Adidas in North America where he reportedly tripled sales in four years.
He is currently the CEO of fast food giant Taco Bell but given his collegiate golf experience and scratch handicap he could easily be lured back to the sport.
Norman has been a figurehead of LIV Golf since its conception and his close relationships with some of golf’s biggest names, including British Open champion Cam Smith, former world No. 1 Johnson and Ryder Cup hero Garcia, have added the star power to the breakaway’s roster.
Norman even recently suggested that seven more PGA Tour players could defect to the Saudi-backed rebel series next year from within the world top 20, including the likes of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
The Australian’s stewardship has also helped LIV golf to achieve its goal of disrupting the status quo and force its way on to the scene but his gaffes also haven’t helped the series’ image either.
The two-time major winner has attracted even more criticism to LIV Golf by brushing off Saudi Arabia’s horrific human rights record, claiming, ‘we all make mistakes,’ for example.
As LIV embarks on what it views as a critical second season, in which it will expand to a 14-event, $405million series featuring franchises and a transfer system, it could reportedly turn to a steadier and less combative stewardship.
‘There are a number of extremely professional executives already there, but a serious figure like King could be just what they are looking for to take the next step,’ a source told The Telegraph.
‘The Saudis have already committed more than $2bn to this and clearly want the business plan to be defined and for it all to be seen as rather less chaotic.
‘The fact it has been frenetic is completely understandable as they have had to do everything off the hoof and where they have got to off a standing start – albeit with an open checkbook – is impressive.
‘But now it is time for calm heads and a clinical vision that someone like King could provide. And if the PGA Tour and DP World Tour want to negotiate then King is a much less combative character than Norman.’
Michael Bamberger of the Fire Pit Collective reported in September that King told him ‘in five years LIV Golf will be another tour among existing tours and that everybody will learn to get along.’
He also claimed that it would make sense on LIV’s behalf to introduce an industry heavyweight at its helm.
Source : Daily Mail