Breezy conditions made sub-par rounds hard at the Albany course with overnight leader Hoffman one of the few to deliver, surging to a five-stroke lead after a birdie at 18 for a two-under 70 and a 202 total.
"He thinks he can win every tournament he plays in".
"I've missed the fight and getting out there and competing, fighting against the golf course and the guys". On 3, I smashed a drive down there and then hit a 2-iron about 265 into the wind, I just hit it on a rope, put it up there on the green.
"If he continues along this way, the one thing I learned from my 10 years with Tiger is never say never with Tiger Woods".
"I was very happy I found the rhythm of the round by the second hole", said Woods, who made five birdies and two bogeys.
Woods, playing for the first time since February, was in trouble from the opening hole, hitting his tee shot at the par-four first into the sand bordering the fairway.
He reached the green in three but missed the putt to make bogey.
"I hit the most attractive three wood that went 300 yards in the wind".
"Play enough, but not play too much", Woods said.
"He looks really strong", said Hall of Famer Ernie Els, the designer of Albany who was on hand to watch the first round. "Which events he plays, I don't really know but I'm interested to see what his schedule will be". "So there are a lot of positives". "It is great playing with your buddies back home but there is a different feeling going through his body".
Woods' return this week in the 18-man tournament which benefits his charity is his first event since back surgery in April.
Hoffman, who started the day with a five-stroke lead, shot 72 and faded to second at 274.
Woods and compatriot Matt Kuchar tied in ninth place behind Italy's Francesco Molinari.