Of those eight players, only one is a multiple winner on the PGA Tour.
Scott Simpson (67), Doug Dunakey (65), Jerry Kelly (65), Shigeki Maruyama (69), Edward Fryatt (67), Chris DiMarco (67), Joe Ogilvie (64) and Jay Don Blake (68) are all tied at the top in Cromwell, Conn.
The eight-man tie matched the tour record set in the first round of the 2000 Honda Classic.
Simpson is a seven-time tour victor, while DiMarco and Blake have each won once.
Kelly may have the biggest fan following over the weekend. The 34-year-old went to the University of Hartford to play hockey, only to find his 165-pound physique was more suited to golf.
Kelly skipped this event last year after missing the cut in four previous starts at the par-70 TPC at River Highlands.
'It was a love-hate relationship. I loved being here and the course hated me,' said Kelly.
Earlier in the season, Kelly led through 54 holes of The Players Championship and finished in fourth place.
Ogilvie holed a 7-iron shot from 176 yards for eagle on his first hole, the par-4 10th.
Six more players are just one back. David Duval (66), Frank Nobilo (66), Dudley Hart (63), David Berganio, Jr. (66), Billy Andrade (65) and first-round leader Jonathan Kaye (71) are in a 7-under-par cohesion.
In all, 25 players - including those at the top - are within three shots of the lead, including Hal Sutton (67) and Paul Azinger (64) at 6-under; and Mark Brooks (69) and Phil Mickelson (68) at 5-under.
Brooks is making his first start since his 18-hole playoff loss to Retief Goosen in the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
Hartford has been a haven for first-time winners over the past four seasons. Stewart Cink picked up his first tour title here in 1997, as did Olin Browne in 1998 and Brent Geiberger in 99.
Last year, Notah Begay III earned his third career victory - and second in as many starts.
DiMarco could have avoided the huge logjam at the top of the leaderboard. He was leading the tournament by one at 9-under, but bogeyed the 8th hole, his 17th of the day, to fall back to the pack.
Eighty-five players made the cut, which fell at even-par 140.
Full-field scores from the Canon Greater Hartford Open