Play was halted late in the day due to weather and left 17 players to finish their rounds Friday morning.
Choi, who won the New Orleans Compaq Classic back in May, got off to a great start by shooting nines of 30-33. He was hot early, with birdies on five of his first seven holes, including four in a row.
A lone bogey on his 12th hole was quickly followed up with back-to-back birdies to get 7-under. He then rolled in a four-foot birdie putt on his 18th to finish the day at 8-under par.
'I wasn't expecting to shoot this low on this course,' Choi said through an interpreter. 'All I'm thinking is hole by hole and tournament by tournament. I'm just giving it my best and that was the result today.'
Pampling, coming off a tie for 19th at the Pennsylvania Classic, also had just one bogey to go along with seven birdies that got him to 6-under and alone in second place.
Billy Andrade sits three off the pace after a bogey-free round of 66. Andrade is trying to bounce back after last week's heartbreaking loss, which saw him leading wire-to-wire before Dan Forsman's 22-foot eagle putt on the 18th snatch the title away from him.
Also with Andrade at 5-under is Bart Bryant, who's playing on a major medical extension for the 2002 season. Bryant was on the 18th hole when play was suspended.
One of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year, Pat Perez carded a 4-under 67 and is in fifth place.
A group of eight golfers are grouped together at 3-under and include 48-year-old Peter Jacobson and former U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen.
Jacobson, who is currently a 144th on the money list, hasn't won a title since the 1995 Buick Invitational, but has posted to two top-10s this year.
Ty Tryon was finally back inside the ropes after his lengthy battle with illness, and shot a 2-over 73 and is tied for 85th.
Ryder Cuppers Hal Sutton and Stewart Cink shot 72 and 73, respectively.
Full-field scores from the Tampa Bay Classic