We've learned a lot about Jordan Spieth over the past few months. But perhaps the most revealing thing we've learned is he is now a superstar, a label that might as well be attached to the back of his caddie's bib for as much as it will continue to follow him around.
Only superstars grab so much attention that they are questioned as to whether they choked trying to accomplish something no one else in the history of the sport has done. Only superstars light up the talk show airwaves with discussions centered around them needing to improve minute details of their game, such as short-range par putting on links courses during final rounds.
And only superstars will have intangible particulars, like mental toughness and resiliency, picked apart in the wake of a summer that witnessed them triumph at the first two major championships and come within a single stroke of reaching a playoff at the third this past week.
It will be argued that Spieth will quickly bounce back and win again, a testament to his competitive fire that will only be stoked and drenched with lighter fluid after his recent defeat at The Open. It will similarly be debated that Spieth hasn't yet dealt with much adversity in his young career, a notion that could lead to speculation about whether misfortune will be his personal kryptonite.
The reality probably lies suppressed underneath those narratives.
He'll mount a comeback from St. Andrews and contend again soon -- not because of his mental toughness, but because he's really good at golf. Or he might not win immediately -- not because he's somehow scarred from this latest defeat, but because winning at the highest level is extremely difficult.
But he's a superstar now, and so we must find these angles.
If that idea sounds depressing, and it should, there's a silver lining to this rampant analysis: Spieth doesn't care and won't let any of it affect him.
The weight of expectations was never going to burden him. Even before The Open, it was clear he would either win an unprecedented third leg of the modern Grand Slam or lose it, but he was always going to do it on his terms.
"None of the historical element came into my head whatsoever," he later said. It would be impossible to prove him wrong.
When his approach shot landed on the front edge of the final green Monday and spun back into the Valley of Sin, it wasn't because the pressure got to him or because he started thinking about joining fellow Texan Ben Hogan in the annals of golf's storied history. It was the wrong shot at the wrong moment, and only proved Spieth mortal under the most adverse conditions.
So, too, did his words immediately afterward.
"It won't hurt too bad," he said of losing by a stroke. "It's not like I really lost it on the last hole. ... I made a lot of the right decisions down the stretch and certainly closed plenty of tournaments out, and this just wasn't one of those. It's hard to do that every single time. I won't beat myself up too bad, because I do understand that."
We can extrapolate from those words a maturity beyond his nearly 22 years; we can extrapolate from that maturity a rationale for exactly why he's been so successful, so quickly, at the game's highest level.
Again, though, that would be reading too much into the situation. It's what we do with our superstars, it's how we try to convince ourselves that they're different from everybody else.
Spieth is different, for sure, but not in a way that will enable us to make any sort of major proclamations in the wake of what happened at St. Andrews this past week. He lost a golf tournament, which hadn't happened in a while.
It served as a reminder that everyone loses at some point, but only the superstars have their losses picked apart, analyzed and rehashed relentlessly, as we readjust our expectations for the future.