Mickelson was playing the 3rd hole at the time of the blast. "I heard it, but I assumed it was nothing," he said on Saturday. "I didn't think twice about it until we were told what happened when we came in on 18. I can't believe the stupidity of some people.
"Golf is scary because there is close interaction with fans," Mickelson added. "Who's to say a person might not come out with a gun or a knife, like what happened to Monica Seles?"
On Sunday the security guards at the front gate of the course, who usually confiscate cameras and coolers as well as check press badges, tickets and, occasionally, the contents of bags, were noticeably more thorough. Uniformed officers, some on horseback, were at every entrance and were scattered throughout the course. Even the K-9 corps was on the case.
For most of the golfers, however, the incident was quickly forgotten. Mickelson had difficulty sleeping on Saturday night but not because he was concerned about explosives on the course. What kept him awake were thoughts of what he could accomplish on Sunday. The win would be his fourth of the season and the ninth of his career, and it would make the Player of the Year race with PGA champion Mark Brooks competitive again. The victory would also give Mickelson a quarter-million-dollar cushion over Brooks on the money list this year.
After Mickelson won by three strokes—he birdied two of the last three holes to pull out of a tie with Billy Mayfair—he said he was encouraged by winning on a challenging course that was set up as if for a major championship. "To perform well on this style of course is a big step up for my performance in future majors," he said.
But the most important thing, according to the 26-year-old Mickelson, was the 10-year exemption. "You don't have to worry about making the top 125 on the money list," said Mickelson, who has never yet had to worry about making the top 125. "[Not needing to qualify] gives me the opportunity to attack and play just to win tournaments."
Mickelson's only concern after his win was the fate of Mayfair, who has become his good friend and who finished tied for second for the second straight year at Firestone. "Will Billy make the Presidents Cup?" Mickelson asked at his post-tournament press conference.
In fact, Mayfair needed to win the tournament to be among the automatically exempt top 10 on the Presidents Cup points list. He finished 15th, and his only hope for making the team lay in being selected by Arnold Palmer, the captain. (Palmer said two weeks ago that he would select the 11th and 12th players on the points list, who are David Duval and Kenny Perry.)
Said Mickelson, "It was a difficult round for me because I wanted Billy to play well. I felt that he was pulling for me, and I know I was pulling for him. It's tough going head-to-head when you care about the other person and want him to do well."
When asked about his win's being dwarfed by Woods's third straight victory at the U.S. Amateur, Mickelson put Woods's accomplishment in perspective. "The Amateur was the toughest tournament for me to win," he said. "You have to play nine rounds of golf, and some of them just aren't going to be the best. His level of consistency at age 20 amazes me."