By Marcus Chhan
The Ryder Cup is done and dusted, and golf fans in Asia should start thinking about supporting a tournament which could very well unearth the next superstar from our region. In its fourth year, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship 2012 will be held from November 1-4 at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.
This year the field will include up to 120 players, but it will take some stopping to deny two-time champion (2010 and 2011) Hideki Matsuyama a hat-trick of titles when the Japanese sensation gets his putter going.
However, do not be surprised if you see a Thai face on the winners' podium come November 4th. As the host nation, Thailand could have up to 10 players competing at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship 2012. Not just 10 ordinary hopefuls, though, but a group of individuals who will all be fired up to impress the Tournament Ambassador for this year - Thai golfing legend Thongchai Jaidee.
Thongchai's presence at the Amata Spring Country Club will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration to his young compatriots and he will also be able to pass on some invaluable advice on all things golf.
"I want to offer my support to all the amateurs playing the tournament, especially those from Thailand who are the next generation of Thai golfing stars," Thongchai told ESPNSTAR.com.
"If I can encourage these guys and help them understand that becoming a good golfer is about hard work and discipline, then I think I will have contributed.
"I also want to raise the profile of the event and encourage golf fans to come to the event and watch the stars of the future. The event motto is 'creating heroes' and these golfers from across Asia will be the heroes of tomorrow.
"It's a great chance to come and see then play."
Thongchai has played at the Amata Spring Country Club several times before, including in last year's Thailand Golf Championship. He describes it as a "well-balanced course" that rewards the most consistent golfers - wind permitting.
"Amata Spring can be very tough, especially when the wind blows," he said.
"The long front nine will favour the players who are powerful off the tee but only if that power is combined with accuracy. The back nine is shorter with plenty of hazards, so a good short game is essential."
As for the hole which separates the men from the boys at Amata Spring? It has to be its signature 17th hole with its floating green - a "fantastic and terrifying hole" according to Thongchai.
"If the wind is blowing this can be a real card-wrecker if you get it wrong. Any player would be happy with par on this hole and I expect a few challenges to falter on this tricky par-three," he said.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A.
You can follow Marcus on his Twitter account @MarcusChhan for more insights from the world of sport.