Doug LaBelle II and Jason Buha are knotted in second place at 7-under-par 65. Former Georgia Tech star Bryce Molder, Rick Price and Kenny Knox share fourth place at minus-6.
Bettencourt did not look like he was going to go low on Thursday as he found a bunker at the opening hole. He saved par there, then chipped in for birdie from 25 feet out at the par-4 fourth.
At the 249-yard, par-3 fifth, Bettencourt once again found the sand, but this time he was not able to save par as his 4-footer missed the hole. That would be the last miscue of the round for the 30-year-old.
He ran home a 6-footer for birdie at the seventh, then holed a putt from double that length at No. 8. Bettencourt tapped in a 2-footer for birdie at the par-5 ninth to make the turn at 3-under 33.
Bettencourt continued his strong play with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 11th. He reached the green in two at the par-5 12th and two-putted for his second birdie in as many holes. He polished his second sting of three birdies in a row with a 3-footer at the 13th.
Bettencourt parred the 243-yard, par-3 14th, but returned to his birdie ways at the 15th when he drained a 6-footer. He birdied the 640-yard 16th, then rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th for his third run of three birdies in a row.
He parred 18 to card his lowest round since joining the Nationwide Tour last year.
'I got away with some things earlier in the round today and didn't start out real good,' admitted Bettencourt, who played the Canadian Tour before last season. 'After that, it just started clicking and got back to my rhythm that I worked really hard on last week.'
At the Scholarship America Showdown last week, Bettencourt posted a tie for third place, his best finish on the Nationwide Tour. He made only three starts prior to that this year and missed the cut in all three.
'I feel like I've been playing so well all year, but hadn't had a chance to get in tournaments because I got reshuffled out,' said Bettencourt. 'This game is all about confidence.'
Jerry Smith, Jon Rusk, Kevin Johnson and Tom Johnson are tied for seventh after opening rounds of 5-under-par 67.