Woods captivated the golf world by tallying birdies on three of his first four holes and making eagle at the par-5 9th to shoot 5-under 31 on the front nine.
Englishman Justin Rose is alone in fourth at 8 under after a second consecutive 4-under 68, one shot ahead of a group that includes Woods, Matsuyama, Francesco Molinari, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler. Prior to the start of this tournament on Thursday, his last event was on February 3 in Dubai.
Woods started the day off strong with a birdie on the first hole to move to four-under, two strokes back. He dropped a shot on the 12th, before parring through to 17.
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He limped off with a muscle complaint against Watford and he could join Marouane Fellaini, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick on the sidelines.
Putting was a problem for Woods as he was surprised by the quickness of the surface.
Said Fleetwood on his round, "I played really well, got off to a nice start".
"The only thing I struggled with was the speed of the greens".
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After the round, Woods was asked how close he is to being back to the level he wants to be.
Woods has not won a tournament since 2013 and has undergone four back surgeries since. "A lot more practice, a lot more training and more tournaments". Woods had pulled within two with a bounceback birdie on hole 10. He said it was on orders of his doctor.
We should all probably sit down, take a deep breath, and try to temper our excitement about Tiger Woods. None", Woods said. "One of the reasons why I played nine straight days at home (recently). My body's accustomed to playing. He made five birdies and two bogies and hit seven of 13 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and had 27 putts. His score could have been lower if not for three bogeys but he was pleased with his solid putting.
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