On the very next hole, Woods hit a brilliant drive miles down the fairway, then stuck his approach shot to within a foot of a hole for an easy tap-in birdie.
If it wasn't exactly Tigermania, it was close.
The Englishman tied the Carnoustie course record for an Open round, a blemish-free card underlining the quality and consistency of his play as he shot seven under.
Even defending champion Jordan Spieth seemed ordinary, in a round where he was doing some extraordinary things. But not necessarily at the British Open.
Spieth shot a superb six-under-par 65 in benign conditions on Saturday to catapult himself up the leaderboard as he aims to follow in the footsteps of Padraig Harrington, the last player to retain the Claret Jug a decade ago.
A month after falling narrowly short at the U.S. Open, where he finished third, world number one Johnson suffered a different kind of disappointment. McIlroy was within two shots of the lead until bogeys on two of his last three holes for a 70 left him four behind.
But as he returns to the site of his first major championship, the memories of being young and on an adventure of a lifetime come back.
However, the 14-time major victor immediately posted back-to-back birdies to return to level par where, after going bogey-birdie immediately after the turn, he remained through 12 holes.
At the age of 42, finding a way to win is going to be a tall task.
"We're not there yet, " Woods said. "I don't find any expectations right now".
"It was meant to be what I normally get, and instead he went a little shorter".
His decision to use his driver - which he used just once on the par-five sixth yesterday - at the second proved to be the wrong one but it was nearly more costly for spectators. And golf fans will continue to eagerly watch him as he chases No. 15.
And therein lies another problem for Woods. The players of today want to mix it up with him.
QUOTEWORTHY: "I've always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger".
"I've put myself back in the tournament, and I've just got to move on from there really", Fleetwood said.
Locke, a protege of 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, shot a two-over-par 73 in his second round to make it just inside the cut on three-over.
At three under par he was just three shots off the lead, albeit in a 10-way tie for 14th place on a crowded leaderboard.
"It certainly is possible", Woods said.
"If I can hit it like I did today then, obviously, I'm going to have a lot of chances coming in over the weekend, and we'll see where that takes me".
He surely hasn't forgotten how to win, but he hasn't been able to will himself to a win as he might have in the past.
He hadn't played in an Open Championship since 2015, and hadn't led at any point in a major tournament since 2012. And even the 14 that Tiger won, that was him at his 100 per cent best. Just didn't make enough putts. It can improve a little bit, but all aspect of the game got better today. He was on such a run that people in golf started talking about his chances of eventually passing Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus with the most major championship wins ever. It was reminder of just how hard a hole it can be.