Last year's victor Spaniard Jon Rahm trails Finau by three shots, while England's Justin Rose, Scotland's Russell Knox and Ireland's Shane Lowry were a shot further back.
But tournament play on the North and South courses at Torrey Pines, where dense rough lines the fairways and the greens were already firm early in the week, will be a different challenge, even for a player who has won eight times at Torrey.
Woods said he's no longer playing with the threat of the back pain that cut short his comeback bid past year - after he'd missed all of the 2016 season.
"There's no pain. I'm not flinching, it doesn't hurt as I take the club back, it doesn't hurt right before impact, it doesn't hurt after impact, it doesn't hurt when I walk".
However, the 42-year-old is not making bold predictions about his chances.
"I haven't felt this good in years so I'm excited about it", Woods said. He followed Friday with 72, missed the cut and said to reporters, in the common parlance of golfers seeking self-reassurance, "I hit a lot of attractive putts that didn't go in".
Early morning natural disaster felt across Southern California
Still another reportedly 1.6 magnitude quake rumbled near Freedom, New Hampshire, early Wednesday, according to the U.S. It comes just hours after a 4.2-magnitude quake hit about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, California .
"I haven't played a full schedule since 2015, it's been a long time". "But I'll get some tournaments under my belt and keep progressing". "It was fun to be out there", Woods said.
Woods is rated 22/1 to win his first event since 2013, with defending champion and world number two Jon Rahm the favourite as he seeks a victory which would amazingly see him overtake Dustin Johnson at the top of the rankings.
He is still adjusting to some decreased flexibility.
While he also stated, atypically for this victor of that colossal number (14) of major tournaments, that he must tweak his expectations as he navigates rustiness, he has come to Torrey Pines.
To the central question about how this January might differ from last, he said, "Yeah, I have no more pain in my back, my back is fused".