PGA Tour: Tiger Woods' Win at Congressional Makes Him British Open Favorite

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIJuly 2, 2012

BETHESDA, MD - JULY 01:  Tiger Woods celebrates a birdie putt on the 15th hole during the Final Round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club on July 1, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Over the course of the last two-and-a half-years, PGA fans from around the world have been anxiously waiting to see Tiger Woods win a major championship.

After posting a 69 on the final day of the AT&T National and securing his 74th career PGA Tour victory, Woods has all of the momentum behind him heading into the British Open.

Every time he wins a tournament, fans and analysts are quick to ask the question: "Is Tiger finally back?"

For over two years, we've awaited the return of Woods to the form that made him the world's most dominant and popular athlete.

There have been times when he's shown promise by winning a tournament, and then fallen flat on his face the very next week, begging the same question to be asked over and over.

But this win feels different.

This was Sunday Tiger wearing the trademark red Nike shirt, staying cool, calm and collected under pressure. Of course, he got some help from Bo Van Pelt who bogeyed the final three holes to help Tiger pass Jack Nicklaus on the all-time wins list.

The timing couldn't have been any better for Woods.

He's jumped 54 spots in the world ranking since November 2011, and has already won three tournaments this year.

Two weeks ago, Tiger made himself relevant after being in contention for the U.S. Open championship after the first two days of play.

After stumbling over the weekend at the U.S. Open, Woods came right back two weeks later with a victory at Congressional.

With the Orlando Sentinel reporting U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson will miss the British Open (h/t ESPN), Woods has one less solid competitor to worry about.

He hasn't won the Open Championship since his back-to-back victories in 2005-06, and hasn't won a major since 2008.

Despite Van Pelt choking during the end of the AT&T National, Woods made clutch shots throughout the tournament and his 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole definitely got into Van Pelt's head.

It's the aura of Tiger Woods that lets competitors know they can never count him out of a tournament.

Three of his four rounds at Congressional were under par, and his determined swagger that shaped his image early on in his career was on full display as he claimed another victory on tour.

With four top-10 finishes already this season, Woods has to be the front-runner to win the Open Championship.

Even though he's been the favorite and has crashed and burned in the past, there's a new feeling about Woods that makes his chances of winning the British Open much more realistic.

Perhaps we are finally seeing the belated return of Eldrick Woods.