Canizares came in 54th in the Race to Dubai standings, narrowly making it into the 56-player event. He opened play Thursday with back-to-back birdies and was 3-under on the second nine en route to a 6-under-par 66.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marcus Fraser, who each had 18th hole bogeys, are tied for second at 5-under while top-qualifier Henrik Stenson came in at 4-under along with Jamie Donaldson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Thongchai Jaidee, Thorbjorn Olesen and Ian Poulter shot 3-under and are tied for seventh. Seven other players are 2-under. Defending champion Rory McIlroy is in a large group at 1-under, five strokes behind Canizares.
After the fast start, Canizares dropped a stroke at the fifth hole but then birdied the par-3 sixth. He closed the front side with a birdie. He pulled clear of the field with three birdies over Nos. 14-16 for a very early lead.
Fraser and Aphibarnrat were both 6-under going into the 620-yard, par-5 18th but both came away with bogeys and fell behind Canizares. Aphibarnrat was 5-under through 11 holes before a bogey at No. 12. He eagled the par-5 14th before the closing bogey.
Fraser bogeyed the third hole but ran off four straight birdies over Nos. 4-7. Two birdies in that streak and two of his three second-nine birdies came on par 3s.