Woods is off and running this week at the BMW Championship, shooting a six-under 29 during his first round today.
For a time, it appeared that McIlroy might best him.
"It's been something I've been struggling with all year and it's been much better the last couple of weeks", he said.
It was Woods' lowest round since firing a 61 in the second round of the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational, which was also his last victory.
On a scorching hot Pennsylvania day with temperatures reaching 38 degrees and 51 per cent humidity, Woods equalled the course record with a sizzling 62.
His only bogey came at the par-three eighth, where he misjudged his tee shot and sent an eight-iron over the back into punishing rough. A poor approach at the par-4 18th left Woods in a tough spot on the green, and he three-putted for a bogey-bogey finish.
Rory McIlroy tees off during the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday.
"Just the way it goes", Woods said with a smile, caring more about a complete round of golf and a strong performance with his old putter than whether he was leading after one round in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
McIlroy threatened to steal the headlines from Woods. The switch paid off from his very first hole of the day-the 10th, as Woods teed off with Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth off the back nine- when Woods poured a 20-footer for birdie right in the center.
Woods moved to seven-under par with a birdie at his 10th hole. "Just the way it goes". He hit 16 of 18 greens and was bombing drives, missing just five fairways.
"It was nice to make one like that up the hill to get things going", Woods told Golf Channel after the round.
"It was one of those days where it was out there", McIlroy said.
"I can accept a bogey on a hole like on the eighth (17th) hole and the bogey on seven wasn't good, but you don't get many opportunities to break 60 and today was one of them and I didn't capitalize". He has gone almost a year without winning.
Two-time major victor John Daly had five birdies, two double bogeys and two triple bogeys in shooting a 7-over 77. And like that, he was back in a tie for second, 9 under and two back.