The 14-times Major champion started his round with a double bogey and then dropped a further shot on the second.
But he then parred every hole up to and including the 16th, a performance which seemed set to continue and keep him at the event for the weekend - courtesy mainly of his fine opening round of 69.
On 17, however, disaster struck. His first drive went out of bounds; his second was snap-hooked almost 100 yards off line, and he eventually walked off with a triple bogey seven that dropped him back to three over par.
With the cut line all but certain to be at two over par, Woods appeared odds-on to miss the cut at a Major for only the fourth time in his professional career - especially when he missed the green with his second shot to the green at the par-5 18th.
A brilliant chip-and-putt birdie followed, though, and Woods made sure he is still in the tournament.
Despite his success at the 18th - making his first birdie of the day to stay at The Open - it was still a very poor round after a promising day on Thursday.
There will be no excuses, either: Woods enjoyed the best of the weather, with both his Thursday morning and Friday afternoon rounds being played in near-perfect scoring conditions on the Royal Liverpool course.
Yet the man himself was undaunted as he spoke to US TV after the round:
"I've got a chance," he said. "Hopefully I can do like Paul [Lawrie] did in '99, make up ten strokes. I just need to get to the back nine on Sunday."
Woods's woes were almost the opposite of Rory McIlroy's experience, however: the world number eight produced brilliant golf to reach 11 under par, build a five-shot lead and take charge of the tournament.
On no hole was that clearer than the 17th, in fact: the same hole that almost spelt doom for Woods was a triumph for McIlroy, who hit a 396-yard drive before chipping up to five feet for his sixth birdie of the day.
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