Play was halted for two hours early in the round due lightning and heavy rain. The first round was eventually suspended for the night due to darkness. First round action will resume Friday morning local time with the second round to follow.
Brett Rumford stands alone in second place at 3-under par through 16 holes. Gareth Paddison and Chris Tidland each posted rounds of 2-under-par 70 and share third place. They were joined there by D.J. Brigman and Brandt Snedeker, who have each completed 16 holes of their opening rounds.
Dufner was in the first group off the 10th tee. He parred his first two holes before play was delayed. When he returned, he parred his next two holes as well.
'That's probably the toughest conditions I've played in with the temperature low and the wind constantly blowing at about 20 mph and gusting up to 30 mph,' said Dufner.
The 2001 Wichita Open winner birdied the par-5 14th and made it two straight with a birdie on the 15th at Clearwater Resort.
After a par on 16, Dufner moved to 3-under with a birdie on No. 17. Once again he made it two straight as he birdied the 18th.
Trouble loomed around the turn though. Dufner stumbled to a bogey on the par-4 third. He slipped to 2-under as he dropped a stroke on the fourth after his tee shot to the par-3 came up short and he was unable to get up and down for par.
The 28-year-old, who has missed the cut in his previous four trips here, chipped in for birdie on the sixth to get one of those strokes back.
Dufner came right back to birdie the seventh. At the ninth, his last, Dufner stuck a six-iron approach within tap-in range for a closing birdie to end at minus-5.
'That was a nice way to finish,' Dufner said. 'It's a difficult par-3 and the wind was pretty hard to gauge and to be honest I was kind of guessing at what club to hit.'
Rumford got off to a good start with birdies on the third and fifth. He parred eight straight holes around the turn. The Australian birdied the par-5 14th to move to minus-three. After he parred the next two holes, play was called for the night.
Kevin Stadler, who won the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour two weeks ago, shot a 1-under-par 71. He stands in a tie for seventh place with Andrew W. Johnson, Stephen Allan, Nick Flanagan, James Nitties and Jarrod Lyle. Matt Hendrix also is 1-under, but has four holes left to play.
Thirteen more players have completed their rounds at even-par 72 with two players left on the course at that number.