Carlos Franco, Briny Baird, Steve Lowery and Billy Andrade are knotted in second place at 5-under-par 66.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest draws, the defending champion Vijay Singh, had to withdraw on Tuesday. He contracted back spasms while playing table tennis with his son.
But officials have to be happy because of Woods, who is the unofficial tournament host. His charity is the main beneficiary and he has a relationship with Deutsche Bank.
Woods, who tied for second last year behind Singh, opened on the back nine Friday and parred his first five holes before collecting his first birdie at the 15th. He hit a sand wedge to 12 feet to set up birdie, then closed his first nine with a two-putt birdie from 40 feet at the par-5 18th.
The No. 1 player in the world parred Nos. 1 and 2, but hit a 6-iron 15 feet short of the hole at the par-3 third. He drained the birdie putt and made it two in a row with an 8-footer at the fourth.
Woods made a nice par save from 9 feet at the fifth to keep his momentum going. He then hit a driver and pitching wedge at the sixth and kicked in a 3-foot birdie putt.
Woods tallied his second birdie in a row at No. 7, a par-5 that measures 600 yards. He reached the front edge of the green and impressively two-putted from close to 90 feet for a birdie. That was enough to put Woods alone in first place.
'I played solid today,' said Woods, who lost his No. 1 ranking to Singh at last year's tournament. 'I hit good, quality golf shots all day and I hit a couple loose ones, but more than anything, I was happy with the way I putted today.'
Much has changed in the year since Woods lost his top billing in the world rankings. He's won five times this year, including the Masters and British Open, and reclaimed his perch atop the rankings.
A direct cause for these successes might be the changes he made to his swing, a move that was criticized by most.
'I feel like this is the way should I play every day. That's why I made the changes in my golf swing so I would be consistent day in and day out,' said Woods, who is the only top-10 player on the PGA Tour money list in the field this week. 'So it's not like I go out there and I hit the ball just unbelievable and putt unbelievable to shoot these scores. I'm just playing solid golf.'
Franco played with Woods on Friday and mixed eight birdies and three bogeys.
Franco is a player who does not practice a lot, and he had Woods laughing because Franco flew over to the Boston area from Paraguay on an 18-hour flight. Franco had not practiced and still managed a 66.
'I like to play the golf course because when I go to the range, I hit it, I hit it, I hit it, every shot is the same,' said Franco. 'He said, 'did you practice?' I said, 'yes, I practice fishing.''
Baird began on 10 and was 2 under when he reached the 18th. He birdied that hole, then the first three of the second nine and reached 6 under par for the championship.
He came up short with a 7-iron at the fifth and his birdie putt missed the hole by 10 feet. Baird's par try did not fall either and he dipped into a tie for second place.
Lowery played awesome golf early with four birdies in a five-hole span to start his round. He dropped shots at eight and nine, but made up for the miscues at the end of the opening nine with three birdies on his second side.
Andrade recorded three birdies on his round, but the highlight came at the par-4 13th. He had 165 yards to the flag and holed an 8-iron for an eagle.
'I haven't holed a shot, I can't remember the last time I did,' admitted Andrade. 'When it left the club, it never left the flag, it was going right at it. It was a beautiful shot.'
Dean Wilson, Steve Flesch, Mark Wilson, Scott Gutschewski, Will MacKenzie, Stephen Leaney, Joey Sindelar, Jonathan Byrd and Jeff Brehaut are tied for sixth place at 4-under-par 67.