He wound up with a one-shot lead over Kyle Stanley, who bogeyed the 18th hole from the bunker for a 70; Patrick Cantlay, who drove into the creek left of the 18th fairway for a bogey and a 66; and Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old from Chile who atoned for one big mistake on the 15th hole with a birdie on the 18th for a 70. After an opening 70 (3 birdies, 3 bogeys, 1 eagle), he improves to 7-for-11 at Muirfield Village, avenging a missed cut previous year by seven, his first MC since 2009.
Australian Jason Day shot his second consecutive four-under 68 to share fourth place on eight-under with Japanese first round co-leader Hideki Matsuyama (71) and Americans Wesley Bryan (68), J.B. Holmes (66) and Bryson DeChambeau (67).
For Woods, the last memory of his four rounds at Muirfield Village will be sublime ballstriking, the best in the field and better than anything he has produced going back to the first of his four back surgeries.
The 42-year-old, returning to the PGA Tour this year after spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, rebounded from a disappointing 72 on Thursday, when he complained of a tight back, to pick up three shots on his first nine holes.
Woods was in a groove early, following up an eagle on the par-five fifth with birdies on six, seven and nine.
"I know I shot 68 today, but again, that's probably the highest score I could have possibly shot", said Woods, who was five shots behind. "It could have easily been a nice like 62 or 63 and I turned it into a 67".
Despite the frustration, Woods was optimistic about his weekend chances.
A dialled-in Woods then hit the flag with his tee shot on the par-three 12th, before bad weather forced players to leave the course.
Along with making his second ace of the season, Cantlay blistered a 4-iron as far as he can hit it on the par-5 15th, the ball landing just short of the green and stopping 4 feet away.
"I've always felt comfortable here", Woods said.
The world number five had five birdies and as many bogeys in the second round, failing to make the cut for the third time this year.