But that still left him ahead of the 29 players who failed to break 80, a group that included major winners Rory McIlroy (80), Keegan Bradley (81) and Martin Kaymer (83).
Playing alongside co-leader Dustin Johnson, Woods opened with an iron shot onto the first fairway. "All I had to do was just try to shoot even par for the next 16 holes, and I'd be just fine. For most of the day, I just didn't putt well".
It was a rough Thursday for Woods. The only way he found his ball in the rough was that former PGA champion and Sky Sports reporter Rich Beem stepped on it.
"It was pretty evident nobody was making any birdies in the morning - lots and lots of bogeys and 'others, "' Woods said. Woods settled for an 8-over-par 78 with only one birdie.
In his return to the US Open after a two-year absence, Woods opened a major with a triple bogey for the first time in 15 years.
Scott Piercy was one of the four alternates that made it into the field on Monday and he's the first to card a round in red figures so far at this year's U.S. Open as the marquee players struggled to rounds well over par. But over the next four holes, he would give away another five strokes - including back-to-back double-bogeys on the 13th, and 14th - and his chance at a memorable week.
Even those at 71 felt as though they put in a hard day's work, a group that included Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. He tried it again with the same result, and then rapped his putter up the hill by the hole and missed the putt.
Much like two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament, Woods hit plenty of good shots but was unable to get any putts to drop.
"And scrambling when you are out of position on this golf course is also key, and I did that well".
"When's the last time you heard of two guys that play golf for a living putt it off the green, uphill from 30 feet?" "I just didn't putt well". "Just never really took advantage of the opportunities", Woods said after his round.
Indeed, there was no easing into the 118th U.S. Open, where several big names are likely looking into Friday night flight plans.