John Daly, who won this event in 2001, was one shot off the pace at 5-under-par 67 along with David Lynn, Peter O'Malley and Ryder Cup hopeful Colin Montgomerie.
'It doesn't hurt does it,' said Montgomerie. 'Of course it doesn't hurt. Of course there's a bit of pressure on me. And I'm delighted with scoring 67, don't get me wrong.'
Luke Donald, who along with Montgomerie is looking to convince Bernhard Langer that he is worthy of a captain's pick for the European squad, was joined by Miguel Angel Jimenez, Raphael Jacquelin, Michael Jonzon and Alex Cejka in a tie for sixth at 4-under-par 68.
'He knows the situation, how I'm playing and how everyone else is playing, I'm sure,' Donald said of Langer. 'He'll make a good decision.'
With the European Ryder Cup team being finalized at the completion of this event, the early front-runner was playing without the pressures of having to qualify.
Goosen played the back side and stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the 10th. The South African recovered with back-to-back birdies starting at the 11th, however, and added a birdie at the 18th to make the turn at minus-2.
At the par-4 third, Goosen dropped his approach inside 5 feet for a birdie and picked up another birdie at the fifth after his second shot stopped within 8 feet of the hole.
Goosen kept on rolling with a birdie at the sixth and converted a 6-foot putt for a birdie at the seventh to make it three in a row.
The reigning U.S. Open champion found trouble with a bogey at the eighth but attacked the par-5 ninth in search of a closing birdie. He sent his second shot into the crowds to the left of the green, but got up and down for birdie to hold the outright lead.
'Last weekend was the first time I tried to hit a few balls, and I played six holes on Saturday to see how it feels walking,' said Goosen, who hurt himself while on vacation with his family. 'It's still hurting quite a bit walking. But, you're playing this well, sort of keeps your mind on the game.'
Daly hit a wedge to 12 feet for a birdie at the par-4 fifth. He bogeyed the seventh, but came back with a birdie at the ninth.
The American caught fire on the inward half with back-to-back birdies from the 12th and a birdie at the 15th. Daly then chipped his third shot from behind the green to 6 feet at the par-5 18th and ran home the putt for his share of second.
'It was one of my better rounds of the year,' said Daly. 'Usually the scores are really low here, but the course didn't play that easy today. The wind was swirling a lot and the rough is up so much, it's not that easy to get it out of the rough and on to the greens as it used to be.'
Montgomerie, who has reunited with caddie Alastair McLean, started on the 10th and tallied a lone birdie over his first nine holes. The Scot made a move on the front side with a birdie at the fifth and an eagle at the par-5 sixth. He then drained a 12-foot putt for a birdie at the ninth to finish one behind Goosen.
'It's nice to get off to a decent start. I did putt particularly well today,' said Montgomerie. 'The main reason for this is my caddie, actually. I've always put a huge emphasis on who carries my bag around a golf course and I've missed Alastair McLean, the last sort of two years.'
Paul Casey, who has all but locked up a spot on Langer's team, carded a 69 to finish alongside Joakim Haeggman, who is one of the many trying to play their way onto the squad this week. The duo was joined by Jean-Francois Lucquin, Henrik Stenson, Jamie Spence, Patrik Sjoland, Mark Foster, Ivo Giner, Emanuele Canonica and Johan Edfors in a tie for 11th.
Sergio Garcia was five shots off the pace in a group at 1-under-par 71 while defending champion Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington followed in a bunch at even-par 72.