The world No. 1 fired a 7-under 65 to grab a two-shot lead after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club.
'I had two good days of practice the last two days,' said Woods, who joined Arnold Palmer in fourth place on the PGA TOUR all-time wins list with his 62nd victory Sunday. 'Overall today, I couldn't ask for a better start.'
Martin Kaymer, who won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship two weeks ago, shot a five-under 67 and was joined in second by Simon Dyson, Pelle Edberg, Scott Hend, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Levet, Graeme McDowell, Andrew McLardy, Gary Murphy, Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh.
That group already has its work cut out for itself to catch the game's best player.
Woods began on the 10th tee Thursday and promptly birdied that par-5 hole. His next birdie came at the par-4 14th when his 8-iron approach stopped 8 feet from the flag.
Woods, who won this title in 2006, hit a 3-wood off the tee at the par-5 18th, then used the same club to reach the green with his second. He two-putted from 35 feet to make the turn in 3-under 34.
On the second nine, Woods continued his fine form at the first with a driver off the tee and a 7-iron to 20 feet. He sank the putt and added a tap-in birdie at No. 4.
The birdie at four tied Woods for the lead. At the par-3 seventh, Woods knocked a 6-iron 8 feet from the hole and converted the putt to move one clear at the time.
Woods hit a 7-iron to 8 feet at the eighth and rolled in his second consecutive, 8-foot birdie putt. That gave him his two-stroke cushion after round one.
'I played well today, just a bunch of good golf shots,' said Woods. 'Only bad shot I really hit today was at the par-5 13th. Other than that, really hit the ball well.'
Aside from Woods' mere presence in the field, his fellow competitors should be quaking at something else. He revealed after the round that he played better Thursday than he did last week when he won by eight.
'Oh, definitely better,' he said. 'I made a lot of putts last week. I didn't really particularly drive it very well. My iron game was all right.
'I hit the golf ball a lot more clean today and shaped the ball better. Obviously drove the ball a lot better, but the shape of my shots were so much more so much better than it was last week.'
Ernie Els, a three-time winner and three-time runner-up, opened with a 4-under 68 on Thursday. Defending champion Henrik Stenson also shot that number to join Els and a large group of players in a tie for 13th place.
Sergio Garcia and David Howell also carded 68s in round one.