Justin Thomas, Charley Hoffman and Francesco Molinari shot identical scores to be tied alongside Woods.
Even for Woods - the redshirted one who, with is unprecedented showreel, taught golf to ignore every barrier that had ever been there before - this seemed surreal.
While Woods made a comeback on this same property in the same tournament a year ago, this time looks different.
The 14-time major victor subsequently underwent spinal fusion surgery in April, his fourth back operation in the space of three years, and began the week a 40/1 outsider in the 18-man field. He struggled with his chip shots, often faltering on the par 5s, that saw him placed at 1-under after the first nine holes.
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Woods, making his first start since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in February, went out in 35 shots with two birdies and a bogey, before returning in 34 shots with three birdies and a bogey.
Woods also said that his expectations have changed based on the way he's played so far.
His first birdie came on the first when a 96-yard approach shot landed five feet from the hole for a simple birdie putt.
Woods faltered a little on the back nine after an outward nine of 31 had him contending for the lead but there is little doubting his readiness for more tournament golf in early 2018 and that golf is ready for him. "That's one of the reasons I went out and played nine straight days before, back home and down here, as well". I really did struggle getting the speed and I blew majority well past the hole and made a few coming back.
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"I proved that the surgery was successful", he said, referring to the spinal fusion that he had in April, which knocked him out of commission for the rest of the season.
"No issues at all", he added when asked as to his body and fitness. "It was great to be part of a scorecard again and I am delighted with how it went after all the problems I have had". Still, there's a lot more to learn.
Fleetwood's challenge was in danger of being derailed when he double-bogeyed the 10th and dropped another shot on the 11th, but the European number one rallied with a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th to card a 69.
World no. 1 Dustin Johnson, Kevin Chappell, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose were tied for fourth at four-under.
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