Sao Paulo, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Daniel Berger and Jeff Curl both carded a 7-under 64 on Thursday to earn a share of the lead before play was suspended at the Brasil Champions.
Michael Connell was also at 7-under through 17 holes when play was called for the day by the threat of thunderstorms.
Connell will have a chance to claim the outright lead with a 15-foot birdie putt when play resumes at 6:00 a.m. ET Friday.
"The frustrating thing isn't the fact that we didn't get to finish," said Connell. "It's the fact that we have to sit here and waste the energy for the rest of the day. We know we have to play more golf."
Tom Gillis, Tom Hoge and Ash Hall were able to complete their opening rounds at 6-under 65 at Sao Paulo Golf Club, while Adam Crawford was 6-under through 16 holes to join them in fourth place.
Casey Wittenberg, Brad Schneider and Sung Kang were tied for eighth at 5-under 66. They were joined by Byron Smith and Cliff Kresge, who were both 5-under through 16 holes.
Berger started on the back nine and quickly got into red numbers with a birdie at the 10th.
After a par at the 11th, he caught fire with birdies at the 12th and 14th around an 80-foot eagle putt at the 13th to jump to 5-under.
"I hit a 3-wood in there to about 80 feet and just dropped it in," Berger said about the 13th hole. "When I'm sitting over it I'm thinking I'd be happy with a 2-putt birdie. It was a good putt."
He parred his next four holes before adding two more gains at the first and third. His lone bogey of the day at the fourth dropped him back to minus-6, but he followed a hat trick of pars with a birdie at the eighth to head into the clubhouse with the lead.
Curl, meanwhile, opened his round with three straight birdies to race to 3- under. He later bogeyed the eighth to fall back to 2-under.
But he caught fire around the turn, recording five birdies over a six-hole stretch from the 10th to vault into a share of first place at 7-under.
He parred his final three holes to remain there.
Connell parred his first two holes before rolling in a birdie at the 12th. He added birdies at the 16th and 18th to make the turn at 3-under.
He stayed hot with birdies at the first and second to pull within two shots of the lead, and later snapped a streak of three straight pars with back-to-back gains at the seventh and eighth to reach 7-under.
Connell had hit his tee shot at the par-3 ninth to within 20 feet moments prior to the horn being sounded for the threat of inclement weather. He will have that putt for the outright lead early Friday.
NOTES: The first round was played under lift, clean and place conditions ... Gillis opened his round with five straight birdies to tie the tournament record set by Aaron Goldberg last year ... Blayne Barber was disqualified after the first round for not signing his scorecard. He had shot a 4-under 67.