The 14-time major winner, playing his first event since undergoing a microdiscectomy in late March, struggled from the off and only a late flourish pulled things back, although he was still seven shots off the early lead set by Ricky Barnes.
Beginning on the back nine, Woods found the back bunker at the par-three tee and missed a 15-foot putt for bogey. His first drive of the day, which pre-tournament he admitted had been the biggest issue in his recovery, found the middle of the fairway but it was his putting which let him down as a 40-foot birdie attempt travelled only half that distance and he bogeyed again.
Woods' first birdie came at the 467-yard 14th, where he nailed a three-wood to within 10 feet, but he gave that shot back at the next with a poor drive into the left rough.
A five-foot birdie putt at the next lipped out and he three-putted the 17th for another bogey and dropped another at the 18th as he turned four over.
After back-to-back bogeys at the second and third to leave him six over, Woods hit his 198-yard approach to four feet for birdie at the fourth and holed putts from similar distances at seven and eight to get back to three over.