Dodt signed for a 5-under 67 at the Dundonald Links despite two late bogeys taking the gloss off an otherwise brilliant performance.
The 31-year-old is one of six players sharing second position at the US$7 million tournament, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen leading the way after a blemish-free 65.
Dodt started hot to head to the turn 4-under thanks to a hat-trick of birdies from the 5th and another at the 9th.
He grabbed the lead with back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 but immediately gave both shots back at the 15th and 16th before closing strongly with a seventh birdie of the day at the par-5 18th.
Dodt is the best of the eight Australians in the field, Adam Scott two further back and T14 after a roller coaster round which included four birdies and an eagle but also three back nine bogeys.
Wade Ormsby is the last of the Australians in red figures at 1-under with Marcus Fraser, Brett Rumford, Jason Scrivener and Sam Brazel all even par alongside New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
Scott Hend is at 3-over after a disastrous final 10 holes. The big-hitting Queenslander started at the 10th and was in good position at 2-under through his first seven.
However, he dropped a shot at the 17th then made a triple bogey at the par-4 second and gave up another stroke at the 7th on his way to a 75.
Hend will now have work to do to make the cut as he languishes in a share of 120th position.
At the top of the leaderboard, Ilonen is a surprise leader after a recent run of poor form.
The former British Amateur champion has missed each of his last four cuts and shot in the 60s just four times for the season.
But he had all facets of his game firing Thursday and was quick to acknowledge the turnaround in form.
"65 is the round of the season, really," he said.
"I'm not going to say it's been the whole season that's been pretty bad but certainly a good part of it has been pretty slow out there.
“It's nice to get something going and make a few birdies and no mistakes on the card.
"I do need to put some rounds together. I've got to start from a couple of holes, nine holes and now 18 holes and I've just got to continue from there. I haven't been able to put two rounds together, so it's a long way to get four rounds together.”
Among those sharing second with Dodt are American star Rickie Fowler, England’s Ian Poulter and two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington.