Dave Christiensen, a three-time runner-up last year, heads the group of four tied for second place. The former Minnesota amateur champion is joined by Jedd McLuen, Mike McNerney and Mario Tiziani.
Jamie Gomez, a former winner of this tournament, is tied for sixth-place with nine players at 4-under-par, including 2001 Canadian Tour Order of Merit winner Aaron Barber.
Other notables in the field include former University of Florida standout Steve Scott, who opened with a 2-under 70, and two-time Buy.Com Tour winner Sonny Skinner, who started with a 71. Former PGA Tour player Rex Caldwell, who posted a top-10 finish at this event last year, shot a 3-over 75.
Defending champion Steve Runge struggled to an opening 74.
The Panasonic Panama Open kicks off a year that will see the Canadian Tour make stops in Central America, the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The players are competing for a first-place prize of $37,220.