Following a 5-under-par 66 at the Kingsmill Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va., Molder trails Neal Lancaster and Greater Milwaukee Open champion Shigeki Maruyama by just a stroke, as the two carded scores of 65.
The Georgia Tech standout is coming off three consecutive missed cuts since his first event played as a pro at the Reno Tahoe Open in late-August.
In that inaugural event, he nearly won the tournament, ending in third behind eventual winner John Cook.
On Thursday at the Kingsmill course, Molder was looking to blow by the field early, but faltered late in the day.
Starting on the back nine first, the 22-year-old opened in fine form with birdies over his first three holes of the day and added another at his sixth, the par-3 17th, to get to 4-under.
Three more birdies at Nos. 3, 5 and 7 saw him jump into outright first at 7-under, but he slipped with consecutive bogies on the last two holes, the par-4 8th and 9th.
As it is, he is tied with Jonathan Kaye and Chris Riley, who also carded first-round scores of 66.
On top of the pack is Maruyama, who, since winning the GMO in a playoff over Charles Howell III, has seen his best finish come in a tie for 21st at the Air Canada Championship.
His performance Friday was rock solid, offsetting a lone bogey for the round with seven birdies.
Likewise, Lancasters round consisted of just one blemish as well.
The Michelob Championship is in its 21st year at the Kingsmill Golf Club. While John Mahaffey took the first title here in 1981, players this year are competing for a first-place prize of $630,000.
Click Here for Full-Field Scores from the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill.