Early Monday morning in Augusta. On Washington Road, which runs out from downtown to the golf club, workmen are already packing away cones and pulling down signs. The police who spent the past week directing traffic are gone, so are the scalpers offering spare tickets and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have quit their quiet roadside vigil.
There has not been a heavyweight since Joe Louis more than 70 years ago so unmoved by success as Anthony Joshua, the calm new prince moving serenely into a jungle of fevered speculation.
Thirty years ago, Bernhard Langer helped slip the Green Jacket on to Jack Nicklaus’s back. Langer was 28 at the time and had won his first Masters, and his first major, the previous year. Nicklaus was 46.
Romain Langasque learned the merits of impeccable timing long ago. He would not have become the 2015 Amateur champion, achieved at the Carnoustie venue which has driven the world’s best golfers to the brink of meltdown, without such a virtue.
Danny Willett insisted “fate” played a crucial part in him becoming the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1996 to win the Masters and only the second ever to wear the green jacket.
From the brow of the bunker in the crook of the dogleg midway down Augusta’s 2nd fairway the ground falls away so steeply the course seems to unfold itself beneath your feet, a great green blanket spread across the Georgia countryside.
Mere mortals in the 89-man field gave the impression of trying to climb an ice wall while wearing slippers as Jordan Spieth had surged to eight under par and a five-shot lead.
When Stan Wawrinka won his first major title at the 2014 Australian Open against an injury hampered Rafael Nadal to become the oldest first-time grand slam champion in 13 years, it might have been written off as a fluke. When he backed it up at last year’s French Open, the veteran baseliner’s place among the finest big-match players of his generation was beyond dispute.
For the third time in four days, the breakaway group had the final word. However, whereas in Kendal and Knutsford there was no doubt that an escapee would win, here nails were bitten until the very last metre, with Jack Bauer of New Zealand snatching victory even as Caleb Ewan of Australia led the peloton on to the heels of the third rider across the line, Erick Rowsell of the British team Madison-Genesis.
If a set of tennis can be described as flawless, that which Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares inflicted on Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the first 41 minutes of their semi-final win on day 11 of the 2016 US Open is surely a candidate.