O'Malley says players could dump Palmer for a better offer
All he wants is a good golf course … Peter O'Malley. Photo: Getty Images
THERE are no guarantees the Australian PGA Championship will remain at Coolum, despite mining magnate Clive Palmer's insistence the event is going nowhere, says tour veteran Peter O'Malley.
Palmer has been telling anyone who will listen this week that the PGA event will remain at his Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, where it has become a player's favourite over the past 11 years.
The PGA said it would look elsewhere after a number of commercial and contractual issues with Palmer but would consider a revised offer from the venue submitted late last week. The PGA board meets in Melbourne on Wednesday and will try to make a decision on next year's location. It is guaranteed to be in Queensland and likely in the south-east to maximise sponsorship potential.
O'Malley and Craig Parry are the two player delegates on the eight-member board and will provide input from the golfers, who have been discussing everything from Jeff the giant dinosaur to the glut of signs spray-painted on the fairways.
While Palmer is convinced no other venue could compete with Coolum's championship course and accommodation options, O'Malley said all options were on the table.
''We just want to go wherever we can get a good golf course,'' he said. ''This has been a fantastic venue and we haven't decided whether we are coming back here or not. It's been a great time; everyone enjoys it.
''But the guys just want to come and play a good golf course and have a good venue. This has been it. But there are other places we have been looking at.
''We haven't made any decisions. We haven't got any contracts signed. There's still a long way to go before we can make a decision. We've got to talk about it on Wednesday.''
Aside from the obvious issue of giant dinosaurs and sprayed signs flogging Palmer's Titanic II cruise liner, issues such as flexibility of timing and a major sponsorship will also be under the microscope.
O'Malley said there were some concerns earlier in the week, before the event started, as the PGA and Palmer butted heads, but the event had largely proceeded without a hitch.
''It hasn't been as bad as what we initially thought. I think the tournament's gone off really well,'' he said.
''There were a few dramas early in the week but we've mediated those quite well. But I think the tournament's going to finish off on a good note.''
The affection the players have for Coolum is one thing, but O'Malley said their attendance wasn't dependant on having the tournament on the Sunshine Coast, where it pumps $10 million into the local economy.
Options include Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, as well as Royal Queensland. Brisbane's Brookwater is the state's most highly rated course but doesn't have the infrastructure or transport links to cope with the $1.25 million event.
''This is a great venue and we might come back here. But there are other options around and we just have to look at all of those,'' O'Malley said. ''The guys just want to play on a good golf venue and play for some good money.
''I think the players will come back [whatever the venue]. It's an Australian PGA Championship.''