The 46-year-old, who represented the Internationals in the 2000 and 2005 Cup editions at the leafy venue in Gainesville, piled up eight birdies in hot, humid conditions for a flawless eight-under-par 63.

Goosen covered his back nine in a sparkling four-under 31 to finish level with 23-year-old Japanese Ryo Ishikawa, who reeled off five consecutive birdies on his front nine before recording a hole-in-one at the par-three fourth after the turn.

South African Ernie Els and Americans Justin Leonard and Kevin Chappell fired 64s while tournament host Tiger Woods recovered from a poor start to open with a 68 after play was suspended for 97 minutes due to the threat of lightning.

"I hit a lot of iron shots close that gave me birdie chances," Goosen, a seven-times winner on the PGA Tour, told Golf Channel after taking advantage of preferred lies on a soft, receptive layout. "I missed a couple of short ones, actually, out there but just one green missed in regulation and I got that up and down. So overall, a great round."

Goosen has fond memories of the Presidents Cups at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, especially the 2005 edition when he finished with a 4-0-1 record that included a victory over Woods in the last-day singles.

"It was a great week for me but it would have been nice if the team had won," smiled Goosen, who has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Transitions Championship. "I have a lot of good memories here."

Former world number one Woods, who has struggled on the PGA Tour this year while working through his latest swing change as he recovers from back surgery, rebounded impressively from three bogeys in his first four holes. With his iron play especially sharp, Woods picked up shots at the fifth and eighth before he recorded four consecutive birdies from the 10th on the way to a three-under round.

"I feel great," said Woods. "After that start, it was tough to turn it around, which I did. I sucked it up, turned it around and posted a good number. "We got the fresh greens tomorrow (teeing off early in the second round). Hopefully go out there and post a low one."

Defending champion Justin Rose of England, the world number seven, celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday by shooting an eight-birdie 66.

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