By Marcus Chhan
As the eyes of the golfing world turn their attention towards this weekend's Ryder Cup, I would urge fans to spare a thought for our golfers in the region who are competing at various events across Asia this weekend.
We are all passionate about the Ryder Cup; how can you not be when it is Team USA vs Team Europe and all the wonderful moments this rivalry has produced over the years. In fact, watching the late Seve Ballesteros play in the Ryder Cup back in 1995 first got me keen on following golf.
However, this week the guys on the Asian Tour will be at the Taiwan Golf & Country Club in Taipei playing for the Mercuries Taiwan Masters. They certainly deserve at least some of our attention even if the Ryder Cup is going on.
Asian golf has grown by leaps and bounds since the 90s with South Korea in particular enjoying Major success on both the Men's and Women's tours. Closer to where I am based, though, in South East Asia we have yet to crack the Majors.
Our best player over the last decade has been Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee - he impressed at The Open Championship in Turnberry three years ago when he entered the final round just four shots off the lead.
Thongchai turns 43 years old in November but remains as good as ever as he proved in June this year when he recorded his first victory on European soil at the ISPS Handa Wales Open. The Thai legend will also be putting his considerable weight behind the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship as its Tournament Ambassador. The event is being held at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand (November 1-4) and so the choice of Thongchai - Thailand's most celebrated golfer - as the Ambassador was an obvious choice. Thailand could have up to 10 players competing in the 120-man field as the host nation. All of these amateurs will no doubt be able to draw inspiration from Thongchai's mentorship should they choose to pursue a professional career in golf.
For Thongchai, the future of South East Asian golf burns bright.
"Golf in the region is booming, with more and more tournaments coming to South East Asia. This in turn is driving more and more interest in the game from fans and players," Thongchai told ESPNSTAR.com.
"The stars of today like Tiger [Woods] and Rory [McIlroy] come to Asia regularly and these guys are idols to young golfers in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. This encourages them to work hard at the game as they aspire to be like the top international land regional players."
"We have more and more quality golfers developing plus plenty of experienced players to bring the younger guys through."
Thongchai even believes it is still realistic for fans to continue to hope they will see a player from South East Asia win one of golf's Majors.
"Absolutely," he said.
"The Majors are obviously extremely tough tournaments as you're playing the very best in the world and often in conditions that don't suit players form this region. However, as the standard continues to improve I think more and more South East Asian players will start to challenge in these big tournaments."
The winner of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship earns an invitation to next year's Masters Tournament.
You can follow Marcus on his Twitter account @MarcusChhan for more insights from the world of sport.