Fighting through stiff winds hovering around 20 miles per hour, Woods' ball striking looked better than it had all season, as he hit 50 percent of the fairways and 55 percent of the greens.
Shane Lowry had a similarly mixed round with three birdies and four bogeys to leave him a shot further back from McDowell on +1, while Rory McIlroy signed for a 72 to leave him on +2.
He started his round on the back 9 on PGA National.
"I don't want to get beaten up again". Since then, Woods has played in just 22 worldwide events and is now ranked 544th in the world. It's like a first date kind of thing.
"It was just freaky because those first two days, there's so many people", he said. It took a decent effort to hole out for a double bogey having tried to be overly cute with a bunker shot and being spooked by a gust of wind as he attempted what should have been a tap-in for a six. "It didn't feel scripted, it felt like it really came from him being honest and saying, 'I'm really sorry that you're going through this, ' and it made me feel awesome". "It's humbling that he wanted to meet me. It was fun. He was great to play with". Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green. So far in his return, Friday afternoons have had much more drama than Sunday. "I was very pleased I made a lot of the short putts today, because the greens are a little scratchy".
"No, 63 more holes to go, " he said.
"I saw the madness in front of me all day and realized, 'Holy crap, this is something different, ' " Snedeker said.
"It's disappointing, but not the first time they've derailed me and probably won't be the last".
"Definitely excited to get a good round under my belt", said Simpson, who made all 14 of his putts from inside 10 feed on Thursday. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.
Tiger Woods, who also played during the morning wave, is tied for 21st at even par. "But if you're on, it gives you opportunities to score, and I think that's what's happened". I came here a couple years ago but had to withdraw for an injury. "I've got a headache after all that".
I'd love to see Tiger be more conservative off the tee, because through the rest of the bag he looks pretty solid. It's cost me a few tournaments here and there.
There was nearly nothing to split the morning and afternoon starters yesterday (0.06 of a stroke) and I suspect it will be much the same today. By 9am on Thursday, Woods sat atop a leaderboard for the first time since a brief but identical position at the Wyndham Championship of 2015.
As Kizzire ambled into the clubhouse following his round, a fellow player walked past him and said, "How'd you like the circus?" I think it magnifies if your game's off just a touch.