He only returned to golf in December following a number of injuries and personal issues.
And hey, don't forget Phil.
But after two top-five finishes in tuneup events last month, Tigermania again buzzes at Augusta National, where Woods hopes to close the gap on the record 18 major titles of Jack Nicklaus.
Sergio Garcia is the defending champion. He finished tied for 17th that year.
Doctors cleared him to play, and his ankle was tightly taped as he headed to the practice range. "I think that's going to lead to one of the most exciting Masters in years". So it is my favorite tournament in the world. This refinement of the pond treatment followed the last few years of a more forgiving bank that was sometimes holding up golf balls.
'I've got to go play and then let the chips fall where they may, and hopefully I end up on top.
And former Open champion Henrik Stenson celebrated his 42nd birthday in style by joining McIlroy in a seven-strong group on three under which also included Patrick Reed, Rafa Cabrera Bello and China's Li Haotong. They discovered that the lake edge's second cut of grass was mown tighter this year, nearly guaranteeing any ball headed down the slope would end up in water.
McIlroy is one of the favourites to win this week and is looking to land his first Green Jacket to complete golf's "Grand Slam".
"This course is a lot easier to play if you feel like you can just hit the center of the greens and wait for your chances".
But Garcia has a mountain to climb if he is to play the weekend after he equalled the highest score made on any hole in Masters history at the 15th, where he spun five balls into the water before finally making a valiant 15-foot putt to avoid an outright, unwanted record.
During the first-round debacle, patrons sighed as each Garcia wedge shot reached the green front edge with no momentum.
Player pages: While we've had player pages on theScore for a long time with other sports, we've now got them for golfers, too. He's had four wins here.
"I come here with one goal, and that is to win the tournament", McIlroy said.
If golf is a insane game, so is Garcia's relationship with it.
Woods, dressed all in black, was under par for all of one hole.
It was one of the best - certainly most unpredictable - story lines of the tournament's first day.
"But I'll always have a tremendous amount of confidence out here. This year it's probably a nine and a half".
"And I fought hard to get it back and I'm back in this championship", said Woods, who carded a first-round 74 in 2005 on the way to his most recent Masters title.
"But it is Tiger Woods". He has. He's played pretty well this year so far ... but I can't really worry about what Tiger's doing.
Woods will enter the second round trying to get some of his driving woes under control as he tries to climb up the leaderboard.
Pre-tournament form: Finished 11th twice, won once and has a second-place finish in seven starts this season.
But back-to-back bogeys at four and five dropped him down the leaderboard in his first Masters for three years.