This is better than when Tiger Woods was headed into the Masters. One tournament win doesn’t mean a lot but a bit of a confidence booster and a streak ending win after nearly three years. Winning a second tournament in a season with no one really standing out is a whole different thing.

With the US Open looming on the horizon, Tiger Woods made a bit of history by equaling Jack Nicklaus’ 73 wins on the PGA Tour, good enough for second on the all time list behind Sam Snead. What was probably more memorable was his shot on the 16th, being the only player in the top 10 to birdie that hole, and his comeback from four shots down.

It was easy to see what Woods mean to the fans, the organizers, the sport. When do you remember the crowd giving such a roar for a player making a remarkable shot? People recognize when they see magic happen on the green, but that becomes so much more when it’s done by Tiger. Especially the Tiger Woods of post 2009.

And the two questions that remain regarding Woods after the tournament, hoping to get some sort of indication about his chances in the US Open, are all about the confidence and his ability to handle pressure. Woods’ excess celebration could have been spotted from space, but it felt like uncorked something huge and heavy within him. He played like a champion with his four front-nine birdies early on, and played like a champion by coming back from behind.

But the pressure that comes along with these wins, especially and specifically for Woods, which sees it differently than any other player on the tour and almost every other athlete on the planet, might be too much to handle again. Woods responded after winning the Arnold Palmer invitational with a terrible Masters and missing the cut twice in a row.

There wasn’t too much pressure on him going into the Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He thrived under it in years past, and he did very well on the last day. He needs the same attitude and conditions to last so he can be some sort of factor in the 2012 US Open.

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