Woods - a 14-time major victor - will play in next week's Honda Classic in Florida. When Woods reminisced somewhere over America about first negotiating the course as an amateur in 1992, Thomas, a breakout star on the PGA Tour, noted that he was born a year later. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.
Starting on the back nine, Johnson began steady carding a birdie, but went on to pick up shots on the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th, and an eagle on the 1st.
Woods will remain at Riviera for the weekend, but only because his TGR Foundation hosts the event.
The tournament, at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is near Woods' South Florida home.
When asked to elaborate, McIlroy said: "You've got a six-foot putt and they'll shout "It doesn't break as much as you think", just stuff like that - stuff they don't have to say".
Countryman Patrick Cantlay, who was tied for the lead alongside Graeme McDowell following round two, dropped to second with back-to-back 69s. The former US Open Champion has fallen down the World Golf Rankings, and is now ranked 219th, so it is great to see him hitting some form at last, after what has effectively been a two year slump.
McIlroy, owner of four major titles himself, played alongside Woods in the first two rounds of the Genesis Open. He got to even par for the tournament with his birdie on No. 5, but followed that with three straight bogeys and never again got close to reaching red figures. "It was really, really, really strong to start and then laid down a little bit, kind of switched".
That's what Woods used to say when he was changing his swing on healthy knees and a back that had not been touched four times by surgeries. In all, Woods hit just 16 greens in regulation, the lowest total through 36 holes in his career. He hit good shots, but his game was not almost sharp enough to atone for far too many mistakes, especially on a track like Riviera.
But it's tiring. I need a couple of Advil. 'I've got to somehow turn this thing around.
McIlroy balanced three bogeys with a birdie and an eagle for an even par 71.
As if Woods needed another reminder about the actuarial life table for elite athleticism, he slopped to a five-over-par 76 on Friday that resulted in a pink slip from the tournament. "I've dealt with it for a very long time".
Watson, energized perhaps by his appearance in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Staples center on Friday night, opened his round with a bang.
He was at 10-under 2013 as he tries to end a two-year slump that dates to his last victory two years ago at Riviera.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend.