Woods hit his first official shot since defeating Rocco Mediate in an epic playoff at last June's U.S. Open. The world's No. 1 player had reconstructive knee surgery following that triumph.
In the opening World Golf Championship event of the season, Woods defeated Brendan Jones 3 & 2 to set up a second-round match against Tim Clark -- a 4 & 2 winner over two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
Five of the top nine players in the world were knocked out in the first round, but No. 3 Phil Mickelson survived a late meltdown to defeat Angel Cabrera in 19 holes. Mickelson let a 4-up lead get away before making a birdie putt on the first extra hole.
If Woods and Mickelson continue to advance, they would meet in the semifinals Saturday.
World No. 2 Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, was eliminated by Charl Schwartzel 1-up, No. 4 Padraig Harrington lost to Pat Perez 1-up, No. 6 Henrik Stenson fell to Davis Love III in 21 holes, No. 7 Robert Karlson was a 3 & 2 loser to Peter Hanson and No. 9 Kenny Perry was knocked out by Matthew Goggin 2 & 1.
Among the first-round winners were Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas.
Five matches went extra holes and 13 of the 32 first-round matches were won by the lower-seeded player.
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