Choi birdied his opening five holes at Sherwood Country Club, then held on in gusts up to 30 mph for 6-under-par 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over Woods and Steve Stricker.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the top three players all dealt with the wind at the Presidents Cup in Australia. For Choi, he has become used to such conditions after moving to Dallas.
Only three other players managed to break par.
Woods, the tournament host, birdied four of his first five holes and looked as good as he did during a two-week swing Down Under.
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE: In Sun City, South Africa, defending champion Lee Westwood birdied the last hole to shoot 4-under-par 68 and share the first-round lead with Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel.
The third-ranked Westwood holed a putt from nearly 20 feet on No. 18 for his fourth birdie. The Englishman also had an eagle three on No. 9 and two bogeys.
Schwartzel unleashed a birdie blitz on the back nine at Gary Player Country Club, picking up five shots over seven holes after reaching the turn at 1-over.
Top-ranked Luke Donald was the early leader on his return to competition after a five-week break, but a double-bogey 6 on No. 17 gave him 70 and a tie for fourth alongside five other players. Robert Karlsson is alone in third after shooting 69.
Simon Dyson, fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer, Kyung-tae Kim, Graeme McDowell and Jason Dufner are tied with Donald at 2-under.
British Open champion Darren Clarke was the only player over par with 74.
HONG KONG OPEN: In Hong Kong, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot 6-under-par 64 in blustery conditions to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros and David Horsey after the opening round at Hong Kong Golf Club .
The Northern Irishman had the worst of the early morning conditions as most of the top players in the field, including defending champion Ian Poulter (71), struggled in the swirling winds at the Fanling course).
Quiros and Horsey shot their 64s when conditions improved later in the day.
Former Augusta State golfer Oliver Wilson opened with 73. He had three birdies in a row, but also had six bogeys.