First round leaderboard:
-6 T Woods (US), Vaughn Taylor (US) -5 R Palmer (US), B Gay (US), A Scott (Aus) Selected others: -4 H Slocum (US) -3 J Overton (US), R McIlroy (NI), M Kuchar (US) -2 M Laird (Sco), P Casey (Eng), P Harrington (Ire) -1 L Donald (Eng), S Stricker (US) level B Watson (US) D Johnson (US) +1 P Mickelson (US), B Davis (Eng), J Rose (Eng)
Woods needs a wildcard to make the US Ryder Cup team
Tiger Woods was tied for the lead after round one of The Barclays, the first event of the US Tour's FedEx Cup.
The world number one fired a six-under 65 at his first tournament since his recent divorce to lead by a stroke in New Jersey alongside Vaughn Taylor.
Woods is hoping to impress US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin sufficiently to be awarded one of his four wildcard picks.
Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington were the top-placed European wildcard hopefuls on two under.
England's Casey would have been happier with his display had he not double-bogeyed the 17th as he attempts to persuade captain Colin Montgomerie that he is worth of one of his three wildcard selections.
Irishman Harrington had an unspectacular but solid start, making four birdies and two bogeys on his way to his 69.
Luke Donald was another stroke back while Justin Rose was struggling to pick up shots, making only one birdie to his two bogeys, labouring to a 72.
The quartet elected to skip the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where they could have advanced their automatic qualification claims for Montgomerie's team, in favour of the lucrative four-round FedEx Cup.
Two names already on the Scot's team-sheet for the Celtic Manor showdown performed solidly.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy was three under after a blemish-free day, while Englishman Ian Poulter ended his round one under.
Woods, the defending FedEx champion, is still searching for his first title of the year since his return to competitive golf four months ago following damaging revelations about his private life.
He began the first of the Cup play-offs 112th out of 125 players who qualified, and must finish in a range between 50th and 57th depending on how rivals perform in order to make the top 100 cut and reach next week's event in Boston.
There, players must crack the top 60 to reach the BMW Championship in Lemont, Illinois, where the 30-man field for the Tour Championship finale in Atlanta is decided.
The action, though, in New Jersey is the only concern to Pavin, who will select four picks on 7 September to join the already qualified Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar on his team.
Woods, looking considerably cheerier than his done in recent months, was in impressive form, missed only three greens in regulation, sinking seven birdies and carding only the one bogey on his way to his lowest score in 46 rounds of golf.
"It feels good to be able to control my ball all day like this," said Woods, whose six-year marriage to Elin Nordegren officially ended on Monday.
"I just played. I went out and played, made a few tweaks on the range with my swing.
"Started off warming up not very good at all. I was hitting it all over the lot but made a couple of tweaks and found what I have been working on. I hit it good."
The 14-time major winner was non-committal when asked if his upturn in fortunes at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus was linked to his divorce.
"I can't really say that's the case," he added. "As far as golf, it was nice to put it together."
Americans Ryan Palmer and Brian Gay and Australian Adam Scott were tied for second, a stroke off the pace.
Barclays defending champion Heath Slocum was among a raft of players another shot back on four under.
FedEx Cup leader Ernie Els was level par, with second-ranked Stricker a shot better after a 70.
On Wednesday, US Ryder Cup player Furyk was barred from the tournament for missing the Pro-Am event.
The world number six overslept after a battery died on his mobile phone, which led to him missing his early morning tee-off time in Wednesday's curtain-raising practice round.