Partnered with Justin Thomas, Woods secured his team’s only victory in the fourballs session as the International team established a healthy lead at Royal Melbourne, Australia.
However, the 15-time major champion believes his US outfit can come back against Ernie Els’ side, which features the cream of players outside Europe.
“This is a long four days. I mean, we have to go earn this Cup. Just because we lost the session doesn’t mean the Cup’s over,” Woods told reporters.
“There’s a long way to go. A lot of points available. The guys will regroup and we’ll come out tomorrow ready to go.”
It had all started so well for debutant captain Woods, who teamed up with world No.4 Thomas to beat Australian Marc Leishman and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann 4&3.
However, Woods could only watch as Els’ underdog gained momentum and ripped through his more experienced side.
Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau lost 2&1 to Australia’s Adam Scott and South Korea’s An Byeong-hun, while Canadian Adam Hadwin and South Korea’s Im Sung-jae earned a hard-fought 1 up win over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
The day only got worse for the Americans as the controversial Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson lost 1 down to Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Taiwan’s CT Pan before South African Louis Oosthuizen and Mexican Abraham Ancer saw off Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland 4&3.
Reed received a number of jeers in the wake of his two-shot penalty for illegally brushing sand away from his ball with two practice swings at the Hero World Challenge in Bermuda last week.
The row continued in Melbourne as 2018 Masters champion Reed was forced to defend himself again, saying: “I wasn’t trying to improve a lie. If you break the rules unintentionally, it’s not cheating.”
However, Reed was criticized by a number of the International team players, including Cameron Smith, who said he “doesn’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats.”
After attempting draw a line under that issue, Woods now faces the task of dragging his team back into the competition, which is similar to the Ryder Cup between the US and Europe.
The USA is defending Presidents Cup champion and has won 10 of the previous 12 events since its inception in 1994.
“This is the start we needed,” said home hero Scott, the 2013 Masters champion.
“We haven’t seen this for a while. We’ve got to try to keep this lead now as long as possible, and hopefully the week runs out.”