The start of play was delayed three hours Saturday morning to allow the course more time to recover from severe rain that stopped play for several hours on Friday. Fifty-one players completed their first rounds Saturday morning while second-round play had already started.
Kite reached 9-under par after a two-putt birdie from 20 feet at the par-5 15th. He ran into trouble at the closing hole at Glen Oaks Country Club.
His drive found a fairway bunker and since it was close to the lip of the trap, Kite had no choice but to blast out and try and reach the green in three.
Kite's third shot with a sand wedge hit the green and spun back, leaving him with a 15-foot par save. He missed and took his first bogey of the tournament but was tied for the lead with Thorpe at minus-8.
Thorpe also reached 8-under par with a two-putt birdie at 15 but his final hole turned out differently. He used a 6-iron to play the ball 18 feet from the hole, where he drained the downhill putt for birdie and the lead with one round to play.
'The greens are hard to read,' said Thorpe. 'The course is still new so we're learning.'
Thorpe earned his first win of the 2001 season last week at the rain-shortened Kroger Classic and has been in the 60s in nine of his last 10 rounds.
'I'm playing with a lot of confidence and I'm playing well,' said Thorpe, who will be looking for his fourth career win on the elder circuit. 'I know what I need to do to win. The key to my game is chipping and putting. It will all come down to putting.'
'I played very well all day,' said Kite, who is winless this season. 'I was a little disappointed to bogey that last hole but I'm pleased with my position.'
Thorpe began the round three strokes behind first-round leader Gil Morgan and it took a while for the 52-year-old to get on track. He parred the first seven holes before back-to-back birdies at eight and nine. He played his pitching wedge to tap-in range to set up birdie at No. 12 and he ran home a 15-footer for birdie at 14.
Kite had two front-nine birdies then birdied two of his first three holes on the second side from inside three feet. He finished with a 5-under 66 on Saturday.
Aoki fired a 65, his lowest round of the year, which included four front-nine birdies.
Bruce Lietzke is alone in fourth at minus-7.
Morgan ran into trouble early in Saturday's second round, with a bogey at No. 4 after driving into a fairway bunker. He finished with an even-par 71 and shares fifth with Allen Doyle and Dave Stockton at 6-under-par 136.