The former world number one has endured a torrid time thus far in 2015, shooting a career-worst 85 at The Memorial before failing to break 80 once again at the U.S. Open.
However, there were signs that Woods could be finding his stride once more in a round of four-under 66 which included seven birdies, one bogey and a double-bogey.
Woods sits four back from clubhouse leader Scott Langley who is one shot clear of Jonathan Byrd and Danny Lee, with Brian Davis and early pace setter Ryo Ishikawa two off the pace at six-under.
Langley was in top form on Thursday, storming to the top of the leaderboard on the back of a bogey-free round of 62. Four birdies on the front nine were followed by a further four on the back nine as the American made light work of the Old White TPC course.
Byrd too did not drop a shot all day, as did New Zealand's Lee who, after starting at the 10th, registered five birdies in seven holes from the 12th to the 17th.
Ishikawa had set the pace in the morning, with four birdies in his last five holes aiding a charge up the leaderboard. He is joined on six-under by Brian Davis who managed a faultless round of 64.
A group of six players that includes Kevin Na and Greg Owen are next best on five-under, one ahead of the 15-man group that Woods finds himself in.
Morning rain made for soft conditions early on, and Woods made the most of them to shoot his first sub-70 round since the Masters.
Starting on the 10th tee, Woods notched up birdies at the 12th, 15th and 16th before dropping his first shot of the day on the 17th as he took the turn in 34.
A birdie at the second saw the 39-year-old climb to five-under, but a double bogey at the sixth after a poor bunker shot saw him drop back to three-under. However, Woods bounced back strongly his last three holes to finish the day on six-under.
Justin Thomas and George McNeill made sure there were two very happy fans, with the pair each grabbing a hole-in-one at the par-three 137-yard 18th to see two fans win a sweepstakes competition that pays off their home loan.