Daniel Popovic chats with Peter Senior at the presentation. Photo: Getty Images
TOUR veteran Peter O'Malley says there are no guarantees the Australian PGA Championship will remain at Coolum, despite Clive Palmer's insistence the event is going nowhere.
Palmer was telling everyone who would listen last week that the PGA event would remain at his Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, where it has become a players' favourite over the past 11 years.
The PGA has already said it would look elsewhere after a number of commercial and contractual issues with the mining tycoon, but would consider a revised offer from the venue that was submitted late in the week.
The PGA board meets in Melbourne on Wednesday and will endeavour to make a decision on next year's location.
It is guaranteed to be in Queensland and likely to be in the state's south-east to maximise sponsorship potential.
O'Malley and Craig Parry are the 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.
But while Palmer is convinced this is the tournament's rightful home and no other venue in the state could compete with its package of a championship course and accommodation options for players and their families, O'Malley said all options were on the table.
''We just want to go wherever we can get a good golf course. 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,'' he said.
''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 and proclaiming world peace, 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 obvious affection from the players to Coolum is one thing but O'Malley said their attendance was not dependent on having the tournament on the Sunshine Coast, where it pumps $10 million into the local economy.
Other options for the PGA include Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast, as well as Royal Brisbane.
Brookwater, just outside Brisbane, is the state's most highly rated course but it doesn't have the infrastructure or transport links to cope with the $1.25 million event.
''There's a lot of great venues. This is a great venue and we might come back here,'' O'Malley said.
''But there are other options around and we just have to look at all of those and get the best package. The guys just want to play on a good golf venue and play for some good money.
''I think that the players will come back [no matter the venue]. It is an Australian PGA Championship. I think a lot of them will play no matter where we put it.
''If it's here, the guys will play. But whatever venue we have, I'm sure we'll get a quality field.''
Palmer has the potential to tip vast sums into the PGA Championship and attract some huge stars should it remain at his resort, which was purchased off former owner Hyatt.
However, with plans to also turn the venue into a massive dinosaur park and the relationship between Palmer and PGA officials already strained, the golfing body may see the billionaire miner as too much of an ongoing risk for one of its most valuable events.