Cameron McCormick, PGA director of instruction at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, Texas, has been working with Jordan Spieth since he was 12. On July 14, Spieth, at 19, won the John Deere Classic in a five-hole playoff, thus becoming the first teenager since 1931 to win a PGA Tour event.
McCormick and Spieth met through Rob Addington, executive director of the Texas Golf Association, which oversaw the Legends Junior Tour events Spieth was playing in at the time. Spieth’s father asked Addington, a member at Brook Hollow, who his son should be taking lessons from. Addington recommended McCormick to the Spieth family, and the rest is history.
Spieth’s first victory awards him PGA Tour membership and allows him to be elected to PGA of America membership. In addition, the victory earns him a berth in the 95th PGA Championship, Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Spieth has played in three PGA of America events in his short career: the 2008 and 2009 Junior PGA Championships, where he finished runner-up both years. He was also a member of the 2008 Junior Ryder Cup team that won emphatically in Kentucky; Spieth was undefeated in his matches.
PGALinks.com caught up with McCormick shortly after Spieth won the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
How do you feel you have affected Jordan’s development as a player?
He came to me with some pretty idiosyncratic moves. But, he had tremendous skill as a young guy, at such a young age. It was a delicate situation to balance; how much do you want to modify his game while allowing the player, who has the skills and the self-awareness to get the job done, to blossom.
How often do you work with Jordan?
He’s in town so infrequently, so when he is in town, I’ll see him on a fairly regular basis. Generally, we have things to maintain or put back on track. The week before he left for (the AT&T National at) Congressional, I saw him twice that week. He’s very self-aware and self-sufficient but likes reassurance from a trusting voice, from a guy who’s been around a long time. When Jordan is out of season, I’ll see him on average once every 10 to 14 days.
What key things do you work on with Jordan during your coaching sessions?
There’s no way to generalize, because I’m there for everything. A lot of the work that we do together, once the form is in place, once it’s maintained, is all about skill precision, it’s about developing touch. I call it tuning the instrument—the brain instrument—to your muscles.
It’s a gamut from form development, meaning swing, to strategic considerations. When he played (the AT&T National at) Congressional, I spoke to him before the final round. He called me and asked, ‘What do you see out there?’ We discussed what he could do for his final round to improve his ball striking; that all his putts, when they missed, were missing low. There are things that he notices, and some that he doesn’t. Sometimes I’m just there to reassure him, so he can say, "Yeah, I need to fix this, it’s not just me imagining things, it’s a reality."
(Spieth shot 2-under-par 69 in the final round at Congressional, and finished in sixth place).
What were your discussions like during the John Deere Classic?
I texted with Jordan before the final round and he said he was having some challenges with the driver and 3-wood. I suggested focusing on timing, and we settled on a solution where he was feeling like he was taking the club back a little shorter and swinging back, to him, what felt like three-quarters. So he probably got a little long and was late in timing the clubface back at impact and couldn’t get it started on line. It certainly worked out in the final round, he drove it better.
How have you seen Jordan develop, both physically and in terms of course management?
Very early on—well, even up to the week of the John Deere Classic—there’s a psychological maturation he has gone through alone as a player, but he also likes to talk through that process with other individuals, me being one of them, and his parents. The biggest influence that I’ve had on him is never losing sight of the core essence, and that’s just moving the ball the way you need to move it and the way you want to move it. It’s about matching his execution with his intent.
How did you feel about Jordan’s chances of winning on the PGA Tour this year?
I’m not surprised. In Jordan’s career, the John Deere Classic probably wasn’t even the best ball-striking week he’s had so far. The Puerto Rico Open, (RBC Heritage at) Harbor Town, maybe even Congressional, were better skills weeks where his swing was on and everything was clicking.
I look back on the opportunities that he’s had and he easily could’ve won three events by now. At the John Deere, he was on from a skills perspective but he also got some really fortunate breaks. Sometimes that’s what it takes to win. Sometimes you just won’t beat them with your skills alone, sometimes the good Lord just needs to be on your side as well.
Will you be traveling with Jordan for the remainder of the season?
In all likelihood I’ll be at the PGA Championship with Jordan and at the WGC (Bridgestone Invitational) leading up to the PGA Championship. We’ve already discussed that. I’ll be at one or two of the events in the (FedExCup) Playoffs.