De Jonge shot an 8-under 64 to share the top spot with Boo Weekley, who posted his number under more benign conditions in the morning wave.
The two hold a one-shot lead over David Hearn and Sean O’Hair at 65. Another five are lurking at 66 - Daniel Berger, Erik Compton, Brian Davis, Greg Owen and Mark Hubbard. Jason Day and Dustin Johnson are among 12 players at 67.
Rain halted play for 78 minutes in the afternoon, causing play to be suspended at 8:33 p.m. ET because of darkness with 12 players still on the course. Second-round play will commence on schedule at 8 a.m. ET, while others complete their rain-interrupted first round at 9 a.m.
De Jonge, who’s seeking his first win on the PGA TOUR, equalled his low round of the wrap-around season. He also shot 64 in the second round of The McGladrey Classic in October 2014 where he and Will MacKenzie lost in a three-way playoff to Robert Streb.
The Zimbabwean’s bogey-free round Thursday featured four birdies on each side.
“I left a couple out there,” De Jonge said. “I think everybody finishes a round and think they could do a little better. But anytime I shoot a 64 I’m not going to get greedy.
“I feel like my game is solid at the moment. I’m hitting everything fairly well. Nothing exceptional, but it feels like everything’s kind of turning in the right direction.”
Weekley, too, seems to be going in the right direction after making an equipment change.
Armed with a new set of shafts from True Temper, Weekley recorded one eagle, seven birdies and a lone bogey over the 7,425-yard Pete Dye layout. It marked his best opening-round score in more than two years, tying a 6-under 64 at The McGladrey Classic in October 2012.
He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 26 putts.
“I’ve been struggling with my irons the past month or so and finally I got some shafts that work,” Weekley said. “I used them in Wednesday’s pro-am and came away feeling really good. Finally, I can control the distance and the trajectory and the numbers.
“And it helps when you’re really putting well. When you put the two together, you can shoot pretty good. Plus, I’m back on Bermuda grass, I’m close to home (Milton, Fla.) and I love the heat. What’s not to like?”
Weekley, who missed three consecutive cuts at the Valspar Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, and the Valero Texas Open before finishing T75 at last week’s RBC Heritage, cautioned that one round does not make a tournament.
“You can’t win the tournament today,” he said. “There’s a lot of golf left. We’re all out here hitting it the same. The difference is who’s hitting it the closest.
“But I saw the good today. If you don’t hit it good tomorrow, you don’t hit it good. That’s why they call it a four-letter game – golf!”