Marco Dawson, who captured the LaSalle Bank Open in August, shares third with Anthony Rodriguez, Billy Judah, Todd Barranger, Brent Winston and 2000 U.S. Amateur champion Jeff Quinney at 6-under-par 66.
Purdy started with four birdies on the front nine at Shadow Hills Country Club. The 29-year-old kept the momentum around the turn and continued with back-to-back birdies starting at the par-four 11th.
'When you're on the road all year you tend to get into ruts, both good and bad. I was in a bad one for a long time,' said Purdy, who traveled home to Ariz. last week to practice with his coach. 'On the Buy.com Tour, you can play well and miss a cut. When that happens, you have three or four extra days to work on things. I tend to work bad habits into my swing when I practice too much out here.'
The extra work has paid off for Purdy, who has missed the cut in each of his last five starts. He capped his bogey-free round with a birdie at the 17th to match the course record.
'I got back to swinging the way I used to, being less concerned about the actual swing,' said the former Wildcat.
Caron was equally on top of his game. He played the back side first and picked up five birdies over his first nine holes to make the turn at five-under.
The 30-year-old reached six-under with a birdie at the second but faltered with bogeys on the next two holes. Caron responded with a birdie at the fifth and closed his round with back-to-back birdies for a 65 of his own.
'I putted very well. Anytime you make birdies you're putting good,' said Caron. 'They were all from long distances today. They put some water on the course and I thought it played a little easy. During the practice rounds we figured the greens would be really hard later in the day. If there was a day where it'll play easy in the afternoon, today was the day.'
Todd Fischer, winner of the Fort Smith Classic in July, was part of a large group at 5-under-par 67. Fischer was joined by Jeff Freeman, Scott Sterling, Scott Petersen, Jason Gore, Mark Hensby, Tommy Biershenk, James McLean, Chris Couch and John Restino two shots off the pace.
Keoke Cotner, who won this event in 2000, struggled with four bogeys and two birdies to finish nine shots back at two-over-par 74.
The 2001 edition of this event was canceled following the tragedies of September 11th.