Woods completed seven holes of his first round in the morning for a 70, and after an hour's lunch break the 14-time major winner didn't drop a shot in posting nine birdies, including three in succession from the second and in his two closing holes.
It left Woods, who last won on the European Tour at the co-sanctioned 2009 Australian Masters, in fifth place on 11 under but just a shot behind the leading foursome of Sweden's Henrik Stenson (68), England's Ian Poulter (66), Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (65) and South African Justin Walters (66).
"I played a little better certainly this afternoon and made some putts, so that was fine," Woods said.
"It was a round that could have been really special but I am right there and I am only one back. It's a bunched leaderboard so we are going to have to continue to go low over the weekend given the way the golf course is playing and how soft it is, as it is so receptive and slow and it lends itself to a lot of birdies.
"I must have missed about four or five putts inside 10 feet for birdie."
Woods revealed he had been awake since around 3:30 a.m. local time watching TV coverage of Stanford, his alma mater, beating Oregon 26-20 in college football.
The game went on so long that Woods became worried about getting in some practice at Maxx Royal before his 8 a.m. restart.
"Unfortunately, I had to stay longer watching the game than I wanted to," he said. "Kickoff was 3:30 a.m. but that was no problem as my body is still on Singapore time, but it was one of those games where it looked like we (Stanford) were going up 29-7 but the next thing you know, Oregon comes back at us and I'm thinking I have to go warm up for this tournament. So I'm saying, come on guys, can't you just run the clock out, and they finally did."
Stenson, the European Tour money leader, stalled with nine straight pars before picking up four birdies over his inward nine. He and Poulter, fourth on the money list, have a side bet going on who will finish on top in the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai next week. The winner will also have to serve the loser drinks at a restaurant of the winner's choosing.
"I've spotted him a few times on the golf course this week and, every time, he gets a towel out and puts it over his arm and points at me as if I was a drinks waiter," Poulter said.
"So given I am now sharing the lead with him I would have to think the odds are looking brighter on my side, and hopefully they continue to get better."