Two-time European Tour winner Dodt came home in 31 to be seven-under for the tournament after a 65 and hold a two-shot lead over New Zealander Ryan Fox and American Julian Suri.

American Harold Varner III made a late charge to five-under after four consecutive birdies and then another on the 13th before having to scurry for cover as a thunderstorm deluged the course and forced play to be abandoned for the day.

Almost half the field are still to complete their first round at will return at 5:00 am Friday, with the second round teeing off at 7:00 am.

World number seven Adam Scott, who has finished first and second in his last two appearances at Royal Pines, was in a group of players three shots off the lead.

Dodt started on the 10th and turned in 34 with three birdies and a bogey but came to life on the front nine.

He birdied the first, third and fifth to join a four-way tie for the lead and then broke away with closing gains on the eighth and ninth.

Starting on the back nine, Scott reached the par-five 12th in two and then rolled in a 40-foot putt to reach two under.

He had a bogey on the 18th but rallied to card three consecutive birdies at the seventh, eighth and ninth.

Australian Jarrod Lyle had a hole-in-one on the fifth hole with a seven iron from 179 yards with the ball bouncing just short of the green, taking two more hops before rolling into the hole.

The Aus$1.5 million dollar (US$1.1 million) event, which is being co-sanctioned by the European Tour for the second season, marks the start of the 2017 Race to Dubai.