Fred Couples, who won this event in a playoff in 1998, shot a 7-under-par 65 to finish one shot off the pace along with Justin Rose, Franklin Langham, Neal Lancaster and Nick Watney. Defending champion Phil Mickelson was one shot further back in a group at 6-under-par 66.
Players must go low this week, and plenty of them took the task in the first round of this five-day event that is spread out over four courses: the Palmer Private Course at PGA West, Bermuda Dunes Country Club, Tamarisk Country Club and La Quinta Country Club.
Funk played the back side first at Bermuda Dunes and picked up three birdies over his first five holes. He bogeyed the par-4 16th but was able to respond with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
The 48-year-old kept on rolling on front side with a birdie at the par-5 first and back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 third. Funk then birdied two in a row from the sixth to join the logjam atop the leaderboard.
Damron tackled Tamarisk and rocketed out of the gate with a birdie at the first and three consecutive birdies starting at the par-4 third. Damron then birdied the par-4 seventh to get to minus-5 but found trouble with a bogey at the par-4 10th.
He countered with birdies at the 15th and the 16th before chipping in for an eagle at the par-5 18th.
'If you are swinging well and stroking it well and playing patient, it doesn't matter where I am or what kind of course I'm on, I should be able to do all right,' said Damron, whose best finish at this event was a tie for 20th in 1997. 'If you keep hitting the fairway, it's not that tough to give yourself birdie chances.'
Purdy also played Tamarisk and tallied eight birdies for a bogey-free round of 64. Waldorf, who played Bermuda Dunes, was also bogey-free with eight birdies.
'If you have a reasonable length birdie putt, you expect to make it,' said Purdy. 'It's a short course, so I didn't have very many long iron shots to contend with.'
Ogilvie played the Palmer Course, which will be the site of the final round on Sunday. He started on the 10th and quickly got into red figures with an eagle at the par-5 11th. Ogilvie then birdied the 12th but gave that shot back with a bogey at the very next hole.
The 30-year-old birdied the par-3 17th and picked up his second eagle of the day at the par-5 second. Ogilvie then collected a trio of birdies down the stretch for his share of first.
Couples took on Tamarisk in the opening round and had three birdies on the back nine to get his round going. Couples then left an eagle putt on the edge of the cup at the par-5 first and walked away with a tap-in birdie.
He added another birdie at the par-5 fourth and hit his second shot to 9 feet for a birdie at the par-4 sixth. At the par-4 ninth, Couples hit an 8-iron to 8 feet and sank the putt to finish one shot behind the leaders.
'Tomorrow I go to La Quinta, which I believe has played the hardest of the golf courses here since they've lengthened it,' said Couples. 'You can't look around too much. You've just got to go play the courses.'
Mickelson, who kicked off a superb 2004 campaign with his second victory in three years at this event, started on the back side at Tamarisk with four birdies over his first nine holes.
He played his third shot within 2 feet of the hole for a birdie at the par-5 first but struggled to a bogey at the following hole. Mickelson responded at the par-4 sixth and knocked his approach inside 10 feet for the first of consecutive birdies to join Justin Leonard, Peter Jacobsen, Joe Durant, Ryuji Imada, Jason Allred and Rob Rashell in a tie for 11th at minus-6.