Pat Perez, who fired a 60 on Wednesday, struggled early on Thursday thanks to heavy wind. He bogeyed three of his first six holes, but managed a 1-over-par 73. John Senden fired a 9-under 63 to join Perez in second place at minus-11.
In this 90-hole event, play is spread over four courses (Classic Club, La Quinta, the Palmer Course at PGA West and Bermuda Dunes) through the first rounds. The final round will be played at the Classic Club, a new course added to the rotation this year.
In addition, competitors are paired with three amateur partners over the opening four rounds.
Campbell played La Quinta on Thursday and has yet to commit a bogey in this tournament.
Campbell, who tied for second to David Toms last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, did not collect his first birdie until the par-5 fifth. He reached the front edge of the green with his second and two-putted. One hole later, also a par 5, Campbell got out in two with a 4-iron and two-putted for birdie from 25 feet.
The 30th ranked player in the world used a 9-iron for his approach to the par-4 eighth. He ran home the 15-foot birdie putt to reach 12 under par for the tournament.
On the back nine, Campbell wasted little time in making birdie. At the 10th, he knocked a 6-iron to four feet to set up birdie. He only parred the par-5 11th, but took advantage of the next long hole. Campbell once again found the front edge of the green and he once again two-putted for birdie.
'I really capitalized on the par 5s,' acknowledged Campbell, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. 'I birdied three out of the four par 5s, so that was kind of key.'
Campbell had one birdie left in his round. At the 17th, he played an 8-iron to 6 feet and rolled in the birdie putt.
'I played great again today,' admitted Campbell. 'I hit a lot of good shots. I drove it in the fairway a lot, gave myself a lot of opportunities and was able to make a few putts.'
Perhaps Campbell played so well because he was the least recognized in his group. He played with musicians, Justin Timberlake, Darius Rucker of Hootie & The Blowfish, and Alice Cooper.
'It was a great group,' said Campbell. 'They are all really good guys and I enjoyed it. They hit some good golf shots and we just had a good time out there.'
Phil Mickelson, a two-time winner of this event, who made his 2006 debut this week, posted a 3-under 69 on Thursday. He is tied for sixth place with Kevin Sutherland (67) and Tom Pernice, Jr. (70) at minus-9.
Former champions Mike Weir (69) and Joe Durant (65) are part of a large group tied for ninth place at 8-under-par 136. D.A. Points (67), Billy Andrade (68), Richard S. Johnson (69), Alex Cejka (67), John Huston (71), Lee Janzen (65), Scott Verplank (68) and Joe Ogilvie (70) are tied seven shots behind Campbell.
Defending champion Justin Leonard only carded an even-par 72 at La Quinta. He is tied for 35th place at minus-5.