It was Woods' first time leading after any round on the PGA Tour since the Tour Championship last September.
"It's exciting to hit the ball flush again," Woods said. "It's something I've been missing all year."
He didn't miss much at Ridgewood Country Club. Woods hit all but one fairway and putted for birdie on all but two holes. And while he hit his driver only twice, they were two of his best shots of the day -- including on the 291-yard fifth hole, where his drive landed pin-high and settled 15 feet away.
Former Fresno State All-American Nick Watney is tied for 33rd after shooting a 2-under 69 on Thursday.