"I knew I was going to drop a shot, but didn't want to shoot an over-par round", Woods said.
His much-maligned dress shirt drew comparisons with Jerry Seinfeld and looked more akin to a dad heading home from the office than a professional athlete competing on the biggest stage. "And I just kind of ran out at the end", he said.
So Woods has some work to do to stick around Sunday.
Woods' accuracy off the tee was a vast improvement, but the putting frustrations he endured at last week's Wells Fargo Championship resurfaced as he failed to convert four birdie chances from 15-foot range over his first six holes.
It will mark Woods' first appearance at The Open since 2015, when he missed the cut. "Iron play is good, and also putting, hitting a lot of good putts".
"This is just part of the job". In eight tournaments this year, Woods has struggled to put it all together. He ended up making par each time. "I didn't get off to the start that I wanted to". He managed to get on the green from there, but missed an 8-footer for par.
Those miscues were huge for Woods.
As the last of the afternoon wave teed off, the leaders in the clubhouse - Charl Schwartzel and Patrick Cantlay - were at 10 under and the cut line sat at 1 under.More news: Princess Charlotte "Won't Leave Baby Louis' Side"
McIlroy doomed his weekend at the famed par-3 17th.
They instead saw damp squibs, as Mickelson and Fowler both found water at the 17th for matching double-bogeys.
The Players Championship, held over the exacting Stadium course with its iconic island-green 17th, attracts the deepest field of the season and ranks for many as akin to a major. That's what led him to hire Justin Parson.
"I actually really like it", said Mickelson, who is brand ambassador and equity holder in the menswear brand Mizzen and Main. "But I wasn't close enough". Towards the back nine it started getting a little sparse. I had sand wedge on 10 [his first hole], a reachable par-5 at 11, sand wedge again at 12, and I played those even par. "So it's not a new golf swing. Just get a couple things straightened out, minor tweaks, and it will be a fun week".
Fowler, however, seemed to be playing fine, sitting at five under for his round through 14 holes and three under for the tournament.
They just happened to be the 17th and 18th, the two hardest holes on the course.
"I feel like we've had some good chances", Fowler said Tuesday. So might have caught a gust. I didn't have much of what I wanted. He hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation and but managed only the two birdies. He has two victories and six finishes outside the top 20. His confidence is as high as ever.
Woods' opening tee shot was reason enough to still be optimistic, a low 302-yard stinger that left him a 113-yard approach shot to a back-right pin location.