But Woods bounced back in trademark fashion with three birdies on the home stretch iced by a stunning 71-foot birdie putt he drained from off the green at the par-3 seventh.
"I've still got to do the work". Coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational continues on Sky Sports Golf.
"I enjoy just playing again after what I've been through", Woods, 42, said.
The temperature had warmed considerably by the time Paul Goydos began play as part of the first afternoon threesome off No. 10.
Coming off a tie for second at last week's Valspar Championship, Woods has raced into a share of the lead midway through the opening round at Florida's famed Bay Hill course.
After years of battling back problems, Woods, who underwent spinal fusion surgery last April, appears to be back close to the form that helped him to win 14 major titles.
Regardless of whether Tiger's first-round showing results in a win, he is looking more and more like a true threat to be a contender at next month's Masters.
Woods' drive was well off the mark, and by the time he recovered, he recorded a double-bogey six that knocked him down the leaderboard.
He had started the day by posting his first bogey-free nine-hole performance of the young season.
"I hit some attractive shots out there today and I was rolling it really good too", Stenson told Sky Sports.
Rose played in a group that included Patrick Reed, who was three-under through seven holes, even-par through 10 and tied with Woods at four-under after 18. "But everyone says that, I'm not different", he said. The electricity that courses through the crowds when Woods is playing well, he added, "just seems to kind of elevate, and for some reason it just kind of gets me going". I've played well there throughout the years and just haven't been back in a couple of years.
"A lot of people are excited about how Tiger's starting to show signs in the right direction, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun over the next two days".