The 42-year-old American, coming off a runner-up effort last week at the Valspar Championship, enters his last tuneup for next month's Masters after his best result in almost five years and showing no signs of the back injuries that have haunted prior comebacks.
It was another eye-catching performance from Woods in just his fifth official event since returning late last year after spinal fusion surgery in April - his fourth back operation in three years. It was only when he reached his ball that a rules official informed him he was subject to a penalty and would need to go back to the tee to play his third.
Woods, whose 79 career PGA titles are three shy of Sam Snead's career record, began on the back nine and sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 12th.
Justin Rose was four over through six, but made a brilliant recovery to card a three-under 69.
Woods had an aggravating double bogey on the back nine and then settled down, dropping in a vintage 71-foot birdie putt that momentarily had him in sole possession of the lead. At the second attempt, he found the fairway but his flawless round on the scorecard was undone and that finishing double-bogey six was the only sour taste of a round that featured improvements.
That includes four Masters, the last of which came in 2005. He's playing his best golf in years at the ideal time, and even legendary coaches who are entering the most important portion of their season can't help but take notice. My sort of history here's been a little up-and-down.
"I love being on top when Tiger's around", Reed said.
Pádraig Harrington opened with a 71.
Starting at the 10th, the 14-time major victor shared the early lead after picking up back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th before making another gain at the 16th to be out in 33.
Unfortunately for Shane Lowry, the 18th inflicted a harsher penalty.