Waldorf, who finished with five successive birdies in a seven-under-par 64, was one of a clutch of players on the leaderboard with morning tee-offs after strong winds wrecked the first-round hopes of the later starters.
Britain's Nick Faldo and David Feherty were among those affected by the deteriorating conditions and they shot 71 and 73, respectively.
Waldorf, whose nearest challenger was the three-times US Open champion, Hale Irwin, with a 66, said: "I made some long putts, and that certainly helps the score. The greens were really rolling well this morning. If I hit a good putt, it went in."
His good early start follows through on his excellent form in finishing second in the Hawaiian Open a fortnight ago.Reuse content