Playing in just his fifth competitive round since February, Woods started the day at TPC Harding Park with a scrappy birdie on the par-5 10th. He pulled his drive into the rough, then hit a squirely approach that left him short-sided. But a brilliant flop shot to eight feet helped him put an early circle on the card.
Aside from two errant drives that led to bogeys on Nos. 2 and 14, Woods hit the ball well with a swing that looked healthy. He finished his round with positive figures in all strokes-gained categories.
The brightest spot for Woods was his putter, though not the iconic Scotty Cameron with which he won 14 of his 15 majors. The 44-year-old opted for a slightly longer putter this week in order to reduce stress on his back, and it worked.
Tiger ranked top 20 in strokes gained: putting at the end of his round, which included a 32-footer on No. 13 to put him at 2-under.
"I've been messing around with this putter for the better part of over a year," Woods said afterward.
He added: "This putter is just a little bit longer and I've been able to spend a little bit more time (practicing) putting. ... Every now and again, (the Scotty Cameron) needs to be benched and this was a good week for it."
In total, Woods made five birdies and three bogeys for his lowest opening-round score in a major since the 2012 Open Championship.
Woods' second round begins Friday at 4:58 p.m. ET.