Former Champions Tour Player of the Year Jay Haas and Wayne Levi are knotted in third place after opening rounds of 3-under 69 at this year's new venue, the TPC Treviso Bay.
Pooley, the 2002 U.S. Senior Open Champion, began on the 10th tee Friday and collected his first two birdies at the 12th, when he got up and down from a bunker, and at 13, when he drained a 6-footer. He promptly gave those two strokes back thanks to back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15.
Pooley birdied the par-5 18th after he hit a pitching-wedge to get to 1 under par, but that birdie kicked off a run of spectacular golf that got Pooley a piece of the lead.
At the first, Pooley hit a pitching-wedge to 5 feet to set up birdie. Pooley reached the par-5 second green in two and the ball rested 6 feet from the stick. His eagle attempt lipped out of the hole, but he settled for a birdie.
Pooley ran home a 30-foot birdie putt at three for his fourth in a row. He had a solid opportunity for birdie at the par-5 fourth, but could not get up and down from a bunker right in front of the putting surface.
Pooley parred out for his share of first.
'I like the golf course,' said Pooley, who has two Champions Tour wins, but none since the 2003 season. 'It's a good test. It's a ball-hitter's test. With the wind like this, you really have to think your way around. For the most part, I did a good job of that today. Everything was good.'
Fernandez, the 2003 winner, also started on the back nine and birdied his first hole. His only other birdie came at the par-3 17th after he drained a long putt.
Fernandez tapped in a short birdie putt at one, then came up just short of the green with his second at the par-5 second. He got up and down for birdie, but dropped a shot at five after a three-putt from the edge of the green.
He ran home a 35-foot birdie putt at the sixth to reclaim the lost stroke and join Pooley in the lead. Fernandez had a decent look at birdie at nine, but his putt lipped out, leaving him in a tie atop the leaderboard.
'I'm very happy with the way I struck the ball,' said Fernandez, who also has not visited the winner's circle since the '03 campaign. 'When I missed the fairway, I missed on the good side.'
Last week's winner Mike Goodes, who earned his first professional victory last Sunday at the Allianz Championship, Gene Jones, Dan Forsman, Fulton Allem, Jim Chancey, Loren Roberts and reigning Player of the Year Bernhard Langer are tied for fifth place at 2-under 70.
Defending champion Scott Hoch struggled badly on Friday. He only managed an 8-over 80 and is tied for 72nd place of the 77 players who finished the first round.