Jay Delsing, Eric Meeks, Roger Tambellini and Canadian Brad Fritsch share second place at 4-under-par 67.
McGovern began his round on the back nine at DiamondBack Golf Club. He got rolling with back-to-back birdies from the 13th. The three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour closed out his first nine with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
On the front side, McGovern ran off four consecutive pars to begin the nine. He moved to 4-under with a birdie at the par-5 fifth.
After two more pars, McGovern ran home a birdie putt at the eighth to grab the outright lead after the first round.
'It feels like I've been playing 15 or 16 good holes lately but never a complete round,' said McGovern, who has missed the cut in eight of his 11 events this year between the PGA and Nationwide tours. 'I'm happy to finally string together a good round.'
Delsing also began his day on the second nine. After several pars, he stumbled to a bogey at the par-4 14th. He got that shot back with a birdie at No. 16.
Around the turn, Delsing recorded a remarkable seven birdies, but posted just a 4-under 31. He opened with back-to-back birdies from the first, however he bogeyed the third to fall back to minus-1.
Delsing then ran off four straight birdies from the fourth to get to 5-under but trouble loomed at the next. He faltered to a double-bogey at No. 8 before closing with a birdie to share second place.
'Despite those two holes I really played well today,' said Delsing. 'It is a crazy game. The more I play it the more I get used to the unexpected happening.'
Meeks stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the first. He answered that with a birdie at the next and another at the fourth. He posted consecutive birdies from the seventh, but bogeyed the ninth. Meeks notched back-to-back birdies from the 13th to grab a piece of second.
'The course is much firmer and faster than last year,' Meeks said. 'It is tricky because the ball is bouncing about 10 yards when it hits. I didn't birdie any of the par-fives which is disappointing. They were all birdiable today.'
Fritsch had a chance to share the lead but a late bogey coast him dearly. He notched two straight birdies from the fourth. Around the turn, he birdied the 11th and 14th before a birdie at the 17th moved him to 5-under. However a bogey at the last dropped him from the lead.
Tambellini notched three birdies and a bogey on the back nine. On the front side, he struggled to a bogey at the fourth. He came right back to eagle the next and he capped his round with a birdie at the par-3 ninth.
Michael Allen, Rocky Walcher, Danny Briggs, Andy Sanders, John Elliott, Ron Ewing, Terry Hatch and Kevin Muncrief share sixth place at 3-under-par 68.