GAINESVILLE, Va. -- Through four holes, it was looking like another reprisal of the Passion of Tiger. Snap-hook and a bogey on the first hole. A short-side miss from the fairway leading to a second bogey at the third. Another dropped shot at the fourth.
At 3 over through four holes, it seemed Woods was a few more bad ones away from indifference, the subsequent reemergence of the chipping yips and then a post-round head-hanging explanation of what went wrong -- again.
That's not what happened.
Instead, Woods somewhat surprisingly rallied to shoot a 3-under 68 that has him in the top third of the field at the Quicken Loans National.
The 14-time major winner began the comeback with routine-looking birdies on the two par 5s on the front nine at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, completing the opening half with a par at the ninth.
It was on the 10th tee where Woods started his rally. He his four consecutive approach shots inside 12 feet, making all four birdies putts to turn a 1-over round into a 3-under effort that had the weather-weakened crowd buzzing as though Tiger was actually back to his old self.
Woods played effective golf to the house, but couldn't sink any of three slightly longer mid-range birdies bids to improve his score. He trails Retief Goosen and Ryo Ishikawa by five shots heading into Friday's second round.
The world No. 266 admitted this was a test of will.
"I didn't do anything different (after the poor start)," Woods said afterward. "I said stay patient and it will turn, which I did. I turned it around."
Woods said he aimed to get back to even at the turn, which wasn't outlandish considering the two par 5s still ahead of him. He was able to attack some of the easier holes on the first-time host course, managing to fix a hook tendency at the start of the round.
Ahead of the tournament, Woods said in a news conference that he hasn't been able to use his strengths to turn potential disaster rounds into respectable scores. Reminded of that comment after his Thursday effort, Woods savored in what he accomplished.
Woods said, "This is one of those days."
Baby steps, perhaps.
Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.