Laird ended the day at 12-under 201, three clear of second-round leader Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since a penalty cost him a spot in the playoff at the PGA Championship.
Day faltered to a 1-under 70 while Johnson carded a 7-under 64 in a fine round at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
Adam Scott (68) held sole possession of fourth place at minus-8.
Tiger Woods, who opened with a good round Thursday, continued his slide that began Friday by starting Saturday's play with a triple bogey. He birdied the last two holes to register a 1-over 72, dropping him into a share of 28th at 3-under 210.