Woods did not make the ideal start when he three-putted the first green from 25 feet, but back-to-back birdies at five and six got him back on track and a superb 30-foot putt dropped for eagle at the last which earned him a share of the lead with Rickie Fowler.
The 42-year-old has not competed in the PGA Tour’s season-finale since 2013, but he was encouraged by his start after taking time to adapt to the fearsome pace of the greens.
“I played well today,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly the start I was looking for, but I made two good putts there at five and six and got under par, and then from there I hit it pretty good and made a few putts.
“But more than anything, it was important that I missed it all on the correct sides. Even the fairways I missed, all were on the correct sides. I had nice angles in, and the shots I missed were on the greens. All in all, I had a lot of control today.
“I hit so many quality shots all day, whether it was tee to green or it was putts. I didn’t really mis-hit a single shot today. The only shot I can honestly say that I necked pretty bad was the tee shot at 17. Hit a three-wood there, and with an iron, I probably would have shanked it, but ended up in the fairway there and made par.
“But I felt in control today and I had a lot of control over my shots. The only hard part was getting my speed on the greens early on. I missed every putt, blew it through the hole. I had five, six feet coming back, and once I figured out the pace of these things, it was all good.”
Woods also thanked the support from the galleries as he remained hopeful of landing an elusive victory following several near-misses this year, including four top-six finishes in his last seven starts.
“The last couple of months have been fantastic,” Woods added. “I’ve played some pretty good golf and the people have been so supportive and appreciative.
“I’ve been gone for a while and come back, and I hadn’t played this tournament in five years, and some of the people said they haven’t been out here in five years. That’s kind of nice that they’re coming out and supporting this event and supporting me, as well.”