The 37-year-old Woods posted his 17th career WGC victory, though it was only his first in four years. He has not won a major title in almost five years but hopes to change that with a win in the 77th Masters running April 11-14.
Not to be outdone, Matt Kuchar reached the semifinals for the second time in three years with steady play, rarely taking himself out of position.
Donald was the top seed in his quarter and third seed overall in the 64-man field behind world number one McIlroy and number two Woods, who both fell in the snow-delayed first round on Thursday.
Ireland's Shane Lowry, an old friend of the Northern Irishman from their amateur days, defeated the two-times major winner 1-up with the aid of chip-ins at the 11th and 12th holes at Dove Mountai.
McIlroy pulled one back at 14, but conceded the 15th after finding a series of bunkers. McIlroy then birdied the par-three 16th for a win, but they halved the last two holes with pars, and Lowry emerged victorious.
McIlroy, Woods, England's Luke Donald and American Brandt Snedeker would be top seeds if their ranking position holds.
Arjun Atwal made a strong start with a two-under 68 to be placed at tied 18th along with Tiger Woods in the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club, Akron.
Tiger Woods returned to competition after an injury layoff of nearly three months with a two-under 68 at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday.
The spotlight's on the returning Tiger Woods at this week's Bridgestone Invitational, where defending champion Hunter Mahan is among the many wondering just what kind of golf the former number one will produce.
Tiger Woods has fallen out of the world top 20 for the first time since January 1997. The former world No.1 has not played since May 12 because of knee and Achilles tendon injuries although he is expected to announce later this week that he will return to action at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday week.