'It was one of those days that because you're playing so well, it just seems easy and you kind of wonder to yourself why in the world you can't do that more often because it seems so easy,' said Sluman.
Jonathan Kaye, Kirk Triplett and Kent Jones shared second place at 7-under-par 64. PGA Tour money leader Vijay Singh was next at 6-under-par 65 along with Justin Rose.
With many players battling on opposite sides of the spectrum this week, fighting for a spot in next week's season-ending Tour Championship or simply grasping for enough money to secure their playing cards for next year, the only thing on Sluman's mind it seemed was making birdies.
'I'm not coming in here goal-oriented,' said Sluman, who is currently ranked 79th on the money list. 'I think if I just go out and just keep playing solid golf, maybe something good will happen.'
Sluman got things going on the first hole of the Copperhead Course at Westin Innisbrook Resort and chipped his third shot 3 feet at the par-5 for an early birdie. Sluman then played his approach to 20 feet for a birdie at the par-4 third and converted another short birdie putt at the par-5 fifth.
The 47-year-old knocked his second shot inside 12 feet for a birdie at the par-4 seventh and added a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 5 under. At the par-4 10th, Sluman dropped a 9-iron within a couple feet of the hole and tapped in for another birdie.
Sluman was cruising on the back side with birdies at the 14th and 16th before his tee shot found a fairway bunker at the par-4 18th. Sluman played a 7-iron out of the sand and the ball stopped within a foot of the hole.
'If the pin was anywhere else on 18, but what it was, I would have had a very difficult time getting it close,' said Sluman. 'Those are the kind of things that are intangibles that you can never pinpoint why it happens some days and why it doesn't other days.'
He tapped in for birdie to complete a brilliant opening round.
'I played very solid all year, I just haven't put any great tournaments together,' said Sluman, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour. 'Maybe this is the last one that can be a great one for me.'
Kaye collected a pair of birdies on the front nine and picked up a birdie at the par-5 11th to keep inching up the leaderboard. He added a birdie at the 14th and tallied an ace at the par-3 17th to move to 6 under.
Kaye then birdied the closing hole for his share of second.
'I hit a good shot there on 17, a perfect 3-iron for me if I just kept it down,' said Kaye, who is just outside the top-30 on the money list. 'Fortunately it was one of the ones I hit the way I really wanted to today, and it ended up just perfect.'
Singh needs to win this week and next to get to 10 titles on the season, but the top-ranked player in the world will most certainly surpass the $10 million mark in single season earnings. Singh had six birdies to go along with no bogeys on Thursday to finish three shots off the pace.
'I'm focused on the game,' said Singh. 'If you hit decent shots and make some putts, you're going to play well, and that's what I'm doing right now.'
Jonathan Byrd posted a 5-under-par 66 to finish alone in seventh place. Jay Haas, Lee Janzen, Jose Maria Olazabal and Stephen Leaney were one shot further back at 4-under-par 67.