Parker McLachlin, a Nationwide Tour rookie, shot a 4-under-par 66 and is tied for second place with Mario Tiziani and Jeremy Anderson.
This is the first event on the docket for the Nationwide Tour in 2006 and it's one that Isenhour hoped he would not have on his schedule this year. He fell apart on the final nine holes of the PGA Tour Q-school Tournament and missed his tour card.
'I sat down after that with my coach to work on some things,' said Isenhour, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour. 'There were a few shots I couldn't hit down the stretch. I had trouble in the wind and that led to bogeys.'
Isenhour was tested immediately as wind gusts reached 20 miles per hour on Thursday.
He flew out of the gate in round one. Isenhour parred his first hole, then rattled off three consecutive birdies from the second. He parred his next three, but closed his front nine with a birdie at No. 9.
Isenhour's second nine got off to a rough start with a bogey at the par-4 10th. He closed with three birdies in his last five holes, including back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 to post a nice, first-round lead.
'This is a perfect test today,' said Isenhour, referring to a day that also featured temperatures nearing 90 degrees. 'It's nice to have the wind and suddenly be able to hit the shots I wanted to hit.'
McLachlin, a Hawaii native who had former U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson on his bag when he tied for 59th two weeks ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii, got it to 5 under par, but two bogeys and a birdie in his last four holes dropped him into a tie for second.
'This is a good test of golf out here,' said the 26-year-old. 'It also makes the long trip down here a little sweeter when you hit some greens and make some putts.'
Tiziani and Anderson each collected five birdies and one bogey in the opening round.
Chris Tidland, Roberto Coceres, Matt Hendrix, Jeff Hart, David Hearn, Brenden Pappas and Gavin Coles are knotted in a tie for fifth place at 3-under-par 67.