Japan and South Korea have long been hotbeds of talent when to comes to professional golfers, but in recent years talented players have begun to emerge from other countries in the region including Thailand, Taiwan, and China.
FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the top five golfers the region has produced.
Yang Yong-eun (South Korea)
No list of Asia’s top golfers would be complete without South Korea’s Yang Yong-eun, the only Asian-born male to ever win a major championship at the 2009 USPGA. Yang’s three-stroke win was all the more remarkable because it marked the first time that Tiger Woods had lost a major after leading going into the final round.
Y.E. Yang, as he is known in the US, has won 11 titles on four tours during his career, with two on the PGA Tour and three on the European Tour, not bad for someone who didn’t even take up the sport until he was 19!
K.J. Choi (South Korea)
Another late starter, Choi began playing golf at the age of 16 when his dreams of becoming a powerlifter were shattered. Choi was a consistent performer on the PGA tour throughout the first decade of the 21st century, winning eight titles including the highlight of his career – The Players Championship in 2011.
With 22 career titles in his 16-year professional career, Choi’s best finish at a major was when he tied for third at the 2004 Masters, three shots behind the eventual winner Phil Mickelson.
Inbee Park (South Korea)
South Korea seems to have a production line for successful female golfers, and Inbee Park is the most successful to date. After turning pro in 2006, Park had to wait two years to claim her first title, which also happened to be the 2008 US Women’s Open.
It was another four years before she won again on the LPGA tour, but this sparked an amazing run of success that saw her rattle off 16 more wins in the space of three years, including another six majors. Having already amassed 26 career wins, she is only one of seven players to win four different majors in her career.
Park has struggled with a hand injury in recent months and there have been rumours of retirement, although she sidelined these concerns to claim the Olympic gold medal at Rio in August to add to her already impressive collection of titles.
Yani Tseng (Taiwan)
Tseng’s career is notable for the way that she fell from grace almost as spectacularly as she rose to the top, but for a short period she was virtually unbeatable.
Bursting onto the scene after turning pro in 2007, Tseng won her debut major championship the following year at the Women’s US Open and went on to win four more majors in the next three years. She set a number of records in the process, becoming the youngest ever winner of the LPGA Championship, the fastest player to reach US$2 million in prize money, the youngest woman to win three majors, and the youngest player, male or female, to win five major championships.
Ranked No. 1 for 109 consecutive weeks, for unknown reasons her form slumped in mid-2012 and she has failed to win on the LPGA since, her only win in the last four seasons coming at the 2014 Taifong Ladies Open in Taiwan.
Lydia Ko (New Zealand)
She may represent New Zealand, but Lydia Ko is also Korean by birth. Her parents emigrating when she was an infant. In January 2012 at the age of 14 Ko became the youngest ever person to win a golf tournament when she won on the Australian LPG tour.
She followed that up by becoming the youngest ever winner of an LPGA tournament in August of the same year when she claimed the CN Canadian Women’s Open while still an amateur. She turned professional a year later and has since gone on to rack up an impressive 19 tournament wins in the space of three years. She won her first major in 2015 at the Evian Championship and followed that up with a second at the ANA Inspiration a year later.
Ko also won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Aged only 19, and with 25 tournament wins to her name already, if Ko carries on winning at the same rate, she stands a good chance of becoming the most successful female golfer the world has ever seen.
Who do you rate as one of Asia’s best golfers? Leave your thoughts in the comments.