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Palmer digs in as last resort to keep PGA in his own backyard

Something different ... T-rex stands between the 9th green and the 10th tee at Coolum.

Something different ... T-rex stands between the 9th green and the 10th tee at Coolum. Photo: AP

IF YOU thought the idea of whacking a full-scale T-rex in the middle of a championship golf course was difficult to get your head around, try working out where the Australian PGA Championship is going to be held next year.

The future of the tournament in Coolum remains shrouded in confusion, with the PGA saying the event will be looking for a new home next year and flamboyant resort owner Clive Palmer singing an entirely different tune.

The billionaire mining magnate with a penchant for dinosaurs, cruise ships and vintage cars has declared the PGA will remain at his Palmer Coolum Resort for the foreseeable future, even if the sanctioning golfing body has already said it will be played at another venue in 2013.

Palmer bought the former Hyatt resort, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, last year. The venue has hosted the past 11 PGA Championships but this is shaping as the final fling as Palmer and the PGA couldn't come to terms for future events.

Some of the sticking points include Palmer's reluctance to sponsor the event as well as provide the venue, the signage sprayed all over the fairways and the placement of Jeff, an 8.5m dinosaur near the 10th tee.

PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn said on Tuesday the tournament would move next year, likely to the Gold Coast, but Palmer is nothing if not unpredictable.

He said on Thursday night he wanted the event to stay and there is a press conference scheduled for Saturday morning where he expected to say the PGA's future remained at its current home. It's unclear whether his group has had any further discussions with PGA officials.

"I think the PGA will stay at Palmer Coolum Resort. I'm pretty confident there's not a better place in Australia to have the PGA," Palmer said on Thursday night. ''It's got all the facilities. It's got international standing and, as we know, the players love it. The PGA is the Professional Golfers' Association so if the players love it. I'm sure it's going to stay there."

That is news to Thorburn and the PGA, who already appeared to have made up their mind about Coolum as a venue and are reluctant to buy into any public discourse with Palmer until this year's event is over.

But Palmer appears to think it's plain sailing, so to speak, given the course is plastered with signs for his Titanic II, a giant cruise ship to be a full-scale replica of the ill-fated liner.

"I don't think the PGA is annoyed," Palmer said. "I think they love it. They love the media attention. They love how the brand's being sent around the world. I'm sure the board is very happy with what's happening at Palmer Coolum Resort, so happy they want to come back next year and we want to have them."

While Palmer and the PGA seem to be conducting two different conversations, the players expect this will be the last hurrah for the Coolum event.

Local hope Steven Bowditch said news of the tournament's demise on the coast had given him added incentive to perform.

"Now that this is unfortunately the final Australian PGA here at Coolum, I think it has given a lot of us a little more, I don't know if desire is the right word, but to play well and get out there and really perform," he said. "It's always a great place to finish a year off but seeing as it is not likely to come back here for quite some time it would be nice to really compete on the back nine come the weekend."

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