'You're always surprised when you shoot 64,' said Boyd. 'There are so many good players out here. Without a good number, you know you're not going to be on the leaderboard.'
Scott Petersen, Wook-Soon Kang and Tim Simpson share second place after opening with rounds of 6-under-par 65.
But Boyd was the story on Thursday. He started on the back nine at the TPC at Wakefield Plantation and only made two birdies on his first nine. Boyd rebounded on the second nine and that gave him the lead.
Boyd birdied two of his first three holes after the turn, but closed with three birdies in his last four holes to post his bogey-free round.
Boyd played on the PGA Tour in the early '80s, but has spent the last two decades at Magnolia Greens in Leland, N.C. He made 101 starts on the PGA Tour and 24 on the Nationwide Tour, including a tie for fourth at this event in 1996.
'I've been playing a little and practicing a lot,' said Boyd. 'It's nice to play well. I feel the course fits my game and I got a good feel for the greens.'
Petersen collected two birdies on his front nine and tallied four in a row from the 12th to grab a piece of second behind the unlikely player atop the leaderboard.
'Everybody is a good player out here. If you qualify, you deserve to be here,' said Petersen, who hit every green in regulation on Thursday. 'Nothing is really a surprise anymore. The scores are so low every week, you don't even look at the names, you just look at the numbers.'
Kang was bogey-free in the opening round and the tour rookie got within one of the lead thanks to a pair of birdie runs on each nine. He recorded three birdies in a row from the fifth and then again from the 12th for his 65.
Simpson mixed three birdies on each side for his share of second.
Jason Buha, P.H. Horgan III, Han Lee, Steve Ford and Jeremy Wilkinson share fifth place at 5-under-par 66.