Woods has started just three events since August 2015 and withdrew from his most recent tournament in February in Dubai after an opening 77.
"It's been a very long time, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and having a good time", said Woods, who underwent another operation on his back in April and was arrested for driving under the influence in May.
"It was fun to get out there and actually be part of a scorecard again".
"I didn't know what I could do". "I have been playing a lot of holes [at home] but it's different teeing up in a tournament".
"So once he was given the go, I think it was exciting for him".
"I had to dial it back a little bit. Those are the internal struggles I've not been through in a while".
That included a bogey on the par-5 ninth when he took four shots from about 30 feet, starting with a chip that didn't reach the green.
Thursday's round follows a hard year for Woods, who in addition to his injury problems has also battled demons in his private life.
Last month he pleaded guilty to reckless driving, following his arrest in May when police found him asleep in his auto beside the road, and toxicology tests revealed an array of prescription medications in his bloodstream.
"Before school I would turn on the TV and watch and he would always be on", Matsuyama said.
"The same reason that when Michael Jordan came back to play basketball", Thomas said.
"There were a lot of people that were instrumental in my life - friends, outside people I've never met before, obviously my surgeon - a lot of people".
Woods also revealed the support he had received from fellow professionals during his recovery had helped him return. "To go out and score like I did was nice".
"They really want to help me come back and play". That would have him fourth in the Putts Per Round stat on the PGA Tour for 2018.