Jason Day, Jordan Spieth head to Australian Open for Thanksgiving battle

Jason Day and Jordan Spieth will celebrate Thanksgiving early ... or maybe late. That's because those are headed to Australia this week to play in the Australian Open, a tournament Spieth has won in two of the last three years.

But why are they going? Why are they spending precious offseason time playing a tournament most in the U.S. won't care about and likely won't even know is unfolding?

Well, it goes without saying that the two will receive a nice appearance fee. Here's Reuters.

The American's appearance fee for playing for the Stonehaven Cup at The Australian course in Sydney from Thursday will be in the vicinity of $1 million, according to several golf insiders contacted by Reuters. But it is all money well spent, according to Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt.

Pitt says the British Open champion's appearance, along with that of home favorite Jason Day, has made the tournament much easier to market and helped sell out the corporate hospitality boxes.

But Spieth also seems to legitimately enjoy the tournament, the culture, the atmosphere and the wins.  

"I've talked to Jordan so much about Australia and its amazing golf courses over the years that he could not help but be intrigued about coming here," Spieth's coach (and Australian) Cameron McCormick said recently. "I hope I had something to do with him experiencing the Australian lifestyle and I feel proud of it. Now, it's like he loves to come."

In winter 2014, Spieth used a win here as a springboard to two major championships in 2015. He won it again in 2016 and won a major in 2017. Maybe we see the same in 2018 if he wins again this week as a favorite. If he does, he'll owe McCormick some extra cash. His coach will also caddie for him this week as regular looper Michael Greller is tending to his wife who recently had a baby.

Day's reasons are more personal. He grew up in Australia but hasn't returned to play in a long time. So he'll tee it up and likely receive a similar appearance fee to Spieth, but for him it's also about returning home.

"I'm going back to Australia [because] it's been four years since I've been back there, so I think it's time for me to get back there and play some golf," Day recently told ESPN.

"I was scheduled the last three years to go back, but I got injured twice and had a baby, so that kind of ruined the plans of going back. But I'll be going back this year, and I'm excited about that."

It's also about winning for him. After a tough year on the PGA Tour, Day could use a spark.

"When I first started playing golf -- I always talk about Augusta National and how I watched Tiger win a (US) Masters -- but even before that I was watching the Australian Open and the summer of golf," he told The Australian recently.

"It's big -- to have in your collection the Stonehaven Cup is huge for me. I honestly believe I will get one, one day. I have to make sure I get to that position where I give myself the opportunity."

It makes for an exciting tournament on a week where we otherwise don't have anything. There is not a PGA Tour or European Tour affiliation with this even, and it will be on at some insane times. But here's to hoping we get a Spieth-Day shootout to go with our holiday leftovers as we inch closer to golf season beginning in 2018.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories