PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The cat got out of the bag early, but it was a huge, welcome surprise nonetheless.
Darryl McCormick, father of 2015 PGA Teacher of the Year Cameron McCormick, traveled halfway around the world from his home in Australia to be there in person to watch his son collect his award at the 99th Annual PGA Meeting at PGA National Resort here in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The younger McCormick was set to receive his award during a dinner on Wednesday evening at PGA National. Early in the day, though, he could be found poolside with the family.
"I messed it up and told him before I got here," Darryl McCormick explained. "Being here to watch Cameron receive this award is fantastic for me. Way back, when he was just finishing school, he worked with me for a little bit of the time because of the practice and the golf. Together, we pushed it. To see him then leave Australia at such a young age -- 19 -- to come here was a big step. He'd come back at Christmas time, or there might be a gap of 2-3 years and I'd come out here. You lose a little bit by not being around him, but you see the result today and it makes you very proud."
Cameron McCormick, PGA Professional and Director of Instruction at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, is the longtime teacher to a prodigy whose name you might be familiar with: Jordan Spieth. While using the 22-year-old Spieth's name and the words "longtime teacher" might seem strange, it't not in this case. Cameron McCormick has been grooming Spieth since he was a child.
Under the tutelage of Cameron McCormick, Spieth has won six times on the PGA Tour since his rookie year in 2013, including two majors -- the Masters and U.S. Open -- as well as the 2015 Tour Championship, which also made Spieth the FedExCup Champion and he has ascended to the No. 1-ranking in the world.
"I think this year has just been a continuity for Jordan in my experiences with him as a youth," Cameron McCormick said. "While you don't necessarily look into the future and expect a five-win season with two majors -- one of the best seasons in professional golf history -- you can certainly connect the dots forward and say that Jordan is capable of amazing things. You knew those dots would net out wins and major championships in his future. For me to ride shotgun on that process has been epic, for lack of a better term. It's been transcendant. It's noting I thought would happen for me, but I did have dreams and visions of helping players or a player reach those heights. It's checked off a lot goals that I thought if I ever achieved, it would take a long time."
Next Wednesday, Spieth travels with Cameron McCormick back to Australia to defend his title at the Australian Open -- the tournament that Cameron McCormick points at as the catalyst for the otherworldly run Spieth has been on over the last 12 months.
After winning that tournament a year ago, Spieth traveled home to the U.S. and -- running on fumes -- smoked the field by 10 strokes to win the Hero World Challenge at 26-under par, and in so doing established a tournament scoring record.
It was a sign of things to come for Spieth in the 2014-15 PGA Tour season. Along with two major victories, Spieth factored in at the Open Championship (T4) and the PGA Championship (second).
"I think the win in Australia last year gave Jordan an increased wind in his sails coming off a 2014 season that wasn't necessarily a low point, but certainly a slower than expected season," Cameron McCormick said. "He hadn't had a win to that point, so getting that win in Australia gave him that confidence and then everything just took off. It'll be nice to go back and revisit the positives from last year and also go to Melbourne together first to share some rounds of golf on courses that I've known and loved for my whole life and he hasn't touched or experienced yet."
Cameron McCormick said much of Spieth's success is a direct result of the people he surrounds himself with, starting at the top with his family and then his friends, coaches, past teachers and more.
"He's a quick study," Cameron McCormick said. "He learns from everyone that he's around. For him to be so polished and mature on TV is really just an aggregation of all of his learnings by virtue of the people he surrounds himself with. He lives it and it comes out on the national stage. It comes out on Sunday afternoons and it comes out in the press, so it doesn't surprise me at all. I wouldn't say the sky is the limit for Jordan. He's shooting beyond that -- for the stars -- beyond what we can see. He does a great job of compartmentalizing that and realizing that those things can't happen with out wins, like staying in the moment, on a day-to-day basis."
That just might be the reason Cameron McCormick and Jordan Spieth get on together so well. Despite the difference in age and upbringing on two different continents, the two share many of the same values.
"My dad taught me the value of how to work hard," Cameron McCormick said. "That's an invaluable life lesson. I'm a product of the environment that I grew up in. Just like Jordan Spieth, I'm a reflection of who I surround myself with. To say that this effort and this award is singular would be inaccurate and a total injustice. It comes by virtue of the collective efforts of many and largely the people that I grew up around. That's family and my surroundings in Australia. It's amazing to be able to share a pinnacle of achievement in your profession with those that your love."
Cameron McCormick was notified that he would be named PGA Teacher of the Year by PGA President Derek Sprague back in July. Sprague called McCormick minutes before hopping a plane to Scotland for the Open Championship and left a message for McCormick asking him to call back as soon as possible.
McCormick, leaving work, immediately called back. After telling Sprague he himself was headed to the Open the next day, Sprague explained the reason for his call, "On behalf of the PGA of America, we'd like to congratulate you as our 2015 PGA of America Teacher of the Year."
Shortly thereafter, an elated McCormick phoned home to share the news.
"I got the news from Cameron's mother," Darryl McCormick said. "You're excited. You're delighted. It's a big thing, because golf is so big. Being in sport your whole life yourself, to achieve something like this is just marvelous and makes you very proud. We work hard at what we do."
"This award is a crowning achievement for me," Cameron McCormick said. "When an association of 28,000 single you out as worthy of recognition, you can't go any higher. I never set out as I started coaching with a vision of winning the PGA of America Teacher of the Year Award, but as you do things day-to-day and as you try and get better at what you do, these things come into the radar, so to speak. To pursue something like this as a 'goal' I don't think, quite frankly, is possible. But, nonetheless, it's a crowning achievement."