Shanghai: Senior players at the WGC-HSBC Champions this week have suggested it`s time for the European Tour to move in a new direction following the news that CEO George O`Grady is to step down.
Northern Ireland`s Graeme McDowell, one of the most experienced players to ply his trade on both sides of the Atlantic, believes it might be the right time for a "maverick" to shake up the Tour and elevate it to the level of the more lucrative US PGA Tour.
"I`d say George O`Grady has given 40 years` service to the European Tour," McDowell told AFP before setting out for his second round Friday in the WGC-HSBC Champions with a two-shot lead.
"As far as his replacement goes, it has to be someone who views the game of golf on a global scale and really be dynamic and perhaps a maverick to try to push the envelope, to put this tour back where it deserves to be, up there, if not on a par with the PGA Tour," McDowell said.
Tour chief O`Grady confirmed this week he will step down as soon as a replacement is found after 40 years of service to the tour, the last 10 as CEO.
"He has done a phenomenal job. I think he should be very proud of what he has accomplished. He leaves behind a fairly impressive legacy. We should thank him for everything he has done for us," added McDowell.
McDowell said the players had been consulted about the future direction of the Tour but he was not sure they should have a direct say in the appointment of their new CEO.
"We`ve been asked for our views on where the future of the European Tour lies. We all realise that things have got to change from the point of view of how the top players especially play, where they play and when they play.
"As far as his replacement goes, I don`t think we`re qualified to choose."
Another senior figure, Ian Poulter, said that changes were in the pipeline for the post-O`Grady era.
"Things are going to change, and I can see all of those things being healthy moving forward," said Poulter.
"I`m not saying George did a bad job -- he did a great job for a long period of time. But it`s good to have a shake-up every now and then.
"Whether that person is someone who understands golf, I`m not sure, but I just feel change is good, and it will be good for the European Tour."
Poulter had a slightly different view to McDowell on the players` role in appointing a replacement for O`Grady.
"Do I think players should be consulted on George`s replacement? Yes and no.
"If they speak to everybody at least they will get the right opinion from inside out, rather than outside looking in."