After three birdies in his first five holes, Woods' name was atop the leaderboard, quite an unfamiliar site of late for the former world No. 1, now down to 30th.
Then, disaster struck for Woods at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Woods played the next four holes in five-over par, including double-bogeys at the 15th and 18th holes.
The second nine wasn't much better. Woods double-bogeyed the sixth after a splash in the water, tallied four bogeys, including one at his last, and a lonely birdie at five.
Woods is tied for 88th place with almost half the field still to tee off on Thursday and his 77 was his highest first-round score ever in a major. It was also his highest round at the PGA Championship.
Woods, a four-time PGA Champion, returned to golf last week after a prolonged absence to heal an injured leg.
It was a difficult day for most at Atlanta Athletic Club, but few played a worst round than Woods.
Ryo Ishikawa, a contender last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, was one. The young Japanese star staggered to a 15-over 85.
For some perspective, club professional Bob Sowards beat Woods by eight shots on Thursday.