Was it when Tiger Woods, revitalised and made belligerent by the scent of something approaching his past genius, made the front nine seem like a pitch and putt course, punching the air in triumph as every putt slid into the hole?
Was it the moment when five players were tied on the lead with holes running out for everyone? Or when Luke Donald smacked the pin on the last before holing out brilliantly?
Or was it the sight of Rory McIlroy playing from a verandah?
Perhaps it was all of this, like a flurry of punches, that finally assailed the senses, forcing one to concede that this was one of the greatest Masters ever, one of the most dramatic of all televised sporting events.
It needed a triumph, of course. But McIlroy provided the tragedy. It is normally too strong a word to associate with the triviality that is sport. Yet it seemed the only term to describe adequately the unravelling of the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland.
He arrived with that jaunty walk, the curls bouncing under that tightly clamped hat. He walked on to the first tee, too, with a four-shot lead. He boomed his drive down the fairway. It was almost the last shot he was to hit with any authority.
At 8pm British time, television viewers watched a young man who exuded hope, even expectation. Just more than two hours later, McIlroy slumped on to his club. He resembled nothing so much as a Roman general falling on his sword. He was standing on the tee at the 13th. He had just plonked his ball into a burn.
It was awful, dreadful. It was, therefore, compulsive television. It was also an intrusion into a very private grief played out publicly. McIlroy was beaten. He was now being humiliated in front of millions. No one but him can know how that feels. No one, including him, can be certain about how he comes back from this.
His early form on the last day had been anything but convincing. As others charged up the leaderboard, the youngster faltered, then fell. It was obvious from an early fairway bunker shot that rattled the lip and span only yards up the fairway that McIlroy had stared at impending triumph and found it dazzled him. This seemed more than a temporary loss of form, a simple poor shot, it portended a difficult day. But no one could envisage what was to follow.
McIlroy struggled to the turn. It was not until the inward journey, however, that it all became truly grisly. At the 10th, he hit a tree so near the tee that it appeared one was watching a club medal. There was no humour in what followed.
The next television shot showed McIlroy amid a set of lodges, like some sort of furtive stalker at a holiday camp. It was the 75th Masters. It was the first time surely these clapperboard buildings have featured on the television coverage of the tournament. McIlroy then played the hole with an increasing desperation. He careered to the other side of the fairway, to wide of the green. And so on. And so on.
He eventually found the bottom of the hole after eight blows. The 11th took seven shots. Then there was the 12th. McIlroy four-putted from the sort of distance he would normally consider one-putt territory. Another 5 followed at the 13th. The four-hole tally read: 8 7 5 5. It was the pin number that unlocked the full force of a sporting disaster. These had not been golf holes for McIlroy but stations of the cross. He was to take 80 blows to complete his afternoon. His role in the hectic drama that was playing across the screen was to be curtailed, though. He disappeared from the screen as he slipped from the top of the leaderboard.
The beast of sports coverage can never linger over the loser, it must pursue the winner. There were those who auditioned with varying degrees of conviction for the role as Masters champion 2011. Woods stuck it out to the end. His blazing run over the front nine fizzled out as he turned from home. He has all his old competitive edge. He just lacks that confident, irresistible surge that was his trademark.
Justin Day had Sandy Lyle’s putt to claim a birdie on the last and he sank it to make his claim for glory. Adam Scott followed his compatriot with a successful putt of his own. They both walked to the scorers’ tent at 12 under. It was then down to Schwartzel.
He had started with brilliance and now emerged from the pack to lead close to home with all the timing of the class thoroughbred. His run of three consecutive birdies left him needing a par on the last to win.
The South African hit his second shot to the 18th straight on to the centre of the green. He had two putts for victory. He only needed one. It was that kind of day at the Masters. Schwartzel was hot in the cauldron of sporting pressure. On the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s victory at Augusta, it was, again, South Africa day in Georgia.
The patrons cheered lustily, his friends embraced him heartily. The television interviewers scrambled for a word.
Somewhere down the 18th fairway, McIlroy peered at all of this. He then managed to par the last. It did not matter. Not much will for him this morning.