Golf: Women tee up against men at PGA Championship - but even playing field?

Kiwi golf pro Laura Hoskin is "super excited" to tee off against top NZ men at the PGA Championship this week.

An LPGA competitor on the China and Australia tours, Hoskin will be one of six women contesting the 112-year-old event at Te Puke, beginning Thursday.

"It’s the first time in 40 years women have been invited to play alongside the men off an even playing field," she has told The AM Show. "It’s the first time we can compete for the same prize pool as the men in the same tournament."

Women have achieved success on the men's Bob Charles Tour previously.

"We've started to pave the way for women to compete against the men."

But the former Mississippi University player has had to defend her right to play off the women's tees, making the course considerably shorter than her male rivals for the championship.

"All the women in the event play off a shorter course than the men - that makes it even," she insists. "It depends on the day, who has a chance to win."

AM Show sports host and former Blackcaps cricketer Mark Richardson disputes how "even" the contest is, when men and women play different tees.

"That’s quite subjective," says Richardson. "Who decides how far forward each tee goes, because it does change the nature of golf holes, if you play them off the front, rather than the back." 

Hoskin responds: "We can also argue that men drive it further. You drive it 280m and I drive it 230m - that's an advantage in itself.

"We're creating an even playing environment for the men and women to shoot scores that replicate their skill level on the field.

"At the end of the day, we're just excited to have the opportunity for women to compete in New Zealand, because there are no professional events for women in New Zealand, unless we play against the men."

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