Laird, who carded a 2-under 70 Saturday, completed 54 holes at 13-under-par 203. Nicholas Thompson climbed within one of the lead at minus-12 thanks to a third-round 67.
'It was huge to finish with birdies,' Laird admitted. 'It makes the round taste a lot better to finish with the lead.'
Jeremy Anderson (66) and Justin Bolli (65) share third place at 9-under-par 207 at Jennings Mill Country Club.
Laird and Thompson were both hot early. Thompson, who was one group in front of Laird, birdied each of the first three holes to jump to 10 under. Laird responded with three birdies in a row from the second to climb to 14 under.
The Scotsman tripped to a bogey on five and another at the eighth. Laird's lead that once was four, was down to a single stroke thanks to Thompson's birdie at the par-5 seventh.
Both players stumbled to bogeys on the par-3 13th. Thompson responded with an eagle at the par-5 14th, while Laird birdied the same hole to forge a tie for the lead at minus-12.
Laird slipped one back as he bogeyed the 16th. However, he responded in fine fashion as he birdied the final two holes to regain the lead after three rounds.
'I don't feel like I played bad. The bad shots I made were just impossible to come back from and resulted in bogeys,' said Laird. 'I've been hitting it so good this week that I've just fired it at the flags.'
Thompson, who won the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship earlier this year, parred his final four holes to close at 12 under.
'I got off to a good start with birdies on the first three holes,' stated Thompson. 'I hit 17 greens today and I didn't hit many bad shots.'
Louisiana Open winner Skip Kendall posted a 2-under 70 in the third round. He was joined in a share of fifth place at 8-under-par 208 by Paul Claxton, Greg Chalmers, Richard Johnson, Michael Letzig, Omar Uresti and Jay Williamson.
Seven more players, including former U.S. Open champion Steve Jones, are one stroke further back at minus-7.