The 14-times major winner, who started on the back nine at PGA National, got off to a rough start with bogeys on his first and fourth holes but recovered with two birdies on the back nine in unusually chilly and overcast conditions for Florida.
Woods, wearing a pullover, bogeyed the par-four 10th hole and added another at the par-four 13th before recovering with a birdie on the par-five third hole.
On the par-four sixth, Woods hooked his tee shot into the water hazard, but managed to save par after going bare foot and playing out of the water.
"It was only half submerged so I could play some sort of explosion shot and get it back in the fairway," said Woods, who used a nine-iron out of the water.
"I wasn't trying to advance it very far just get it back on the fairway and give myself some sort of wedge shot in there – which I did and got up and down."
It might have been uncomfortable for Woods but his decision to get wet saved his round, particularly when he followed up with a birdie on the par-three seventh.
"If I didn't get that up-and-down, I am looking at a six, three-over, and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next," said Woods. "Could easily have been three and all of a sudden I'm even."
Justin Rose was the best-placed British player in the clubhouse, after carding an early round of 68, although both Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell were two under midway through their opening rounds.