Jason Schultz, Won Joon Lee and Kyle Reifers were tied for second place at 6-under 66 after a low-scoring day at Pete Dye Golf Club.
David Hearn, Bryce Molder, Skip Kendall, Chris Anderson, Scott Parel, Peter Tomasulo, Aron Price and Michael Boyd were another shot further back at 5- under 67, and there were 33 players overall who were within five shots of Price's lead.
The Nationwide Tour's first $1 million purse comes in its 554th tournament, offering a $180,000 first-place check that is the largest in tour history.
The top-144 players on the money list are vying for that windfall, which tops the $148,248 check claimed by Ewan Porter at the Moonah Classic in February.
It will guarantee the winner a place inside the top 25 on the money list at the end of the season -- earning him a PGA TOUR card for next year.
Among the top-12 players on the leaderboard Thursday, only two (Tomasulo and Price) are currently among the top-25 money earners this season.
Price, who ranks 46th on the money list, missed just one fairway and one green in the first round, collecting seven birdies and an eagle on the way to his 64. Price's only bogey came at the par-5 14th, his fifth hole.
His eagle came at the 10th, his first hole, where he spun a wedge shot into the hole from 106 yards out. Afterward, Price stressed the importance of accuracy over length despite the course's 7,300-yard layout.
'You just need to place it more than bomb,' he said. 'You have to plot your way around.'
Price has struggled since posting a third-place finish in his third start this season, missing seven cuts in the last 11 events. He has missed four consecutive cuts since tying for 46th place at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in May.
Despite the recent history of disappointment, Price feels that he has been playing well.
'I just haven't been scoring and getting a lot out of my rounds,' he said.
Thursday's round may have signaled a turn in the right direction.