Woods, who is seeking to win the tournament for a record-equalling eighth time, looked in a promising position at three under after 11 holes but bogeys on the 13th, 16th and 18th meant he had to settle for a level-par 70 at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
That left the 14-time major winner down in joint 31st position, seven shots behind leader and fellow American Jim Furyk.
Woods felt his general game was in good shape, but was let down by his putting.
"Well, I hit it good today. Unfortunately once I got to the greens, probably I think I averaged about four putts per hole, so it was a great day on the greens...," he said with a touch of sarcasm.
"I just hit bad putts today [Friday]. I hit bad putts. My speed was off. The putts that I pured, I didn't make. And then the bad putts didn't have a chance."
After reaching three under, Woods felt he was in a good position, telling himself to "just keep going".
"I was three-under par. I mean, that's not that bad. At the time I was three back of the lead and hadn't made a thing. I thought that was a good sign. Unfortunately, finished awful and here we are," he added before heading to the practice green.
Understandably, Furyk was delighted with his round of 63, which left him two shots clear of nearest challenger Lee Slattery of England.
"It's been a while since I made seven birdies and an eagle in a round, so it was a lot of fun,'' said Furyk whose round was one shot off his career low and two off the course record.
Slattery signed for a 65 following a remarkable run around the turn.
Like Furyk, Slattery started on the back nine and, after beginning with six consecutive pars, he then recorded six birdies and a bogey in seven successive holes to fly up the leaderboard before finishing his round with five more pars.
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Slattery said: "I've been playing well quite a while, just putting the four rounds together has been a bit of a problem recently. A lot of changes with the golf swing and working on numerous other things, as well.
"We all try and improve, and I've been swinging the club well for a while, and I'm just waiting for a week where it all clicks into place."
Slattery's fellow Englishmen Luke Donald and Simon Dyson were part of six-man group on four under par, along with Americans Bubba Watson and Ben Crane, Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello and John Senden of Australia.
Further down the field, Lee Westwood was on two under after a 68 while Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell started with 70s, and defending champion Adam Scott carded a 71.
Open champion Ernie Els, meanwhile, was three over after posting a 73.