Laird picked off seven birdies including three in succession from his 12th hole in a round of a four-under-par 66 and a nine-under total around the Sedgefield Country Club course. It left him a stroke adrift of two Americans, Heath Slocum and Scott Langley, each of whom shot 65 for 10-under par totals.
Laird teed up in the $5.3m event in 136th position on the FedEx Cup points table and needing to be inside the top 125 by Sunday night to be assured of a place in the start of the four-event FedEx Cup Play-off Series in New Jersey on Thursday.
"I'm one back from the lead with two rounds to go, so I'm trying now to win the golf tournament," he said. "It's important for me to get into the FedEx Cup Play-offs but right now the important thing for me is to win and right now I'm in a great spot going into the weekend. If I do get into next week it's an added bonus, but I want to have a shot at winning this tournament come Sunday."
While Laird boosts hope of a fourth PGA Tour success, and a first since he captured last year's Valero Texas Open, his fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher arrived home this morning having missed out on the chance of earning a PGA Tour card for the 2014/15 season. Needing to finish in the top 15 in Greensboro, he crashed out with scores of 71 and 76 for a seven over par 147 total.
"I came hereto give it a go and it just didn't work out, so I'm not overly disappointed," said Gallacher. "I've got the next two events on the European Tour to contest before Ryder Cup qualifying ends; if I do well in those two, you never know. What I will do next year is play a few more events over here around the majors and the WGCs [World Golf Championship events] and see how it pans out that way."
While he heads home, the future of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is in doubt after he lost full PGA Tour membership for a first time since 2007 in missing the North Carolina cut with a pair of 72s.
He is eligible to take up a one-time Tour exemption as a result of being in the top 50 on the PGA Tour all-time money list, or to contest the secondary Web.com Final Four Series and, if he was to finish in the top 25, he would regain his PGA Tour card for the 2014/15 season.