The American was denied a debut when the event was cancelled due to coronavirus in 2020 and then claimed just half a point as he failed to get out of the group stages last season - losing to eventual winner Billy Horschel.
Scot MacIntyre did make it into the knockout stages in 2021, famously coming out of a group containing then World Number One Dustin Johnson but he now has work to do in Group Two.
It was a nip and tuck affair on the front nine, with Morikawa twice getting 2 Up but MacIntyre pulled the gap back to one at the turn as the pair made three birdies between them.
A par on the tenth was enough to edge Morikawa two ahead and he was 3 Up with a birdie on the 12th before a gain on the 15th helped MacIntyre take it to the penultimate hole.
"It was a weird, weird day," said Morikawa. "I felt like I started off really well, made a birdie putt on one, got the round started and got the match started, and then I just made so many unforced errors.
"Sometimes you just get lucky and that's what's great about this format is you can make a bad score, get away with it and move on.
"Hopefully today is a huge wake-up call because the way I played today I won't be getting out, so I'm very lucky today and hopefully we can move on and start playing a little bit smarter golf."
Morikawa will face Sergio Garcia in his second match, with the Spaniard having beaten Jason Kokrak 4 & 3 in their Group Two opener.
Garcia birdied the first and sixth as he turned 1 Up and he extended that advantage as he birdied the tenth and made a 24-foot eagle putt on the 12th, sealing victory when Kokrak bogeyed the 15th.
"I felt like I putted nicely," he said. "Conditions weren't easy, it was a bit breezy, it was gusty.
"But I felt like I hit a lot of good iron shots, I hit a good amount of drives, missed a couple here and there, but overall it was pretty solid and I was able to make a couple of key putts at the right time and that obviously that made a big difference."
"I got off to a hot start there which was good to put the pressure on early and then I just think I hit a couple of bad shots that I got a little lucky with and Tony hit a couple of bad shots and just got punished," said Herbert.
Xander Schauffele was a 3 & 2 winner over Takumi Kanaya in the other Group Seven clash.
The Swede made a lightning start, birdieing the first and third and holing out from 49 yards for an eagle on the fifth to go 3 Up.
Oosthuizen won the sixth and seventh but Noren took the eighth and ninth to get back to 3 Up and he held that lead with six to play before the South African won the 13th and 15th to take it to the last.
"It was a weird match," said Noren. "He was kind of always on the back foot but had a chance at the end. It was really nice to get out of it with a win."
Paul Casey withdrew from the other Group Ten match with back spasms, handing a point to Corey Conners.
In Group 15, Abraham Ancer and Webb Simpson were winners against Bubba Watson and Brian Harman respectively.
The Mexican was bogey-free and made six birdies en route to a 3 & 1 win.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Ancer. "Bubba is all around a really good player and obviously a Major Champion and he's won this event, so he knows what it takes.
"I just knew I had to play flawless golf. Thankfully I played really well and I made some putts when I needed to."
Simpson beat Harman 1 Up.