The Scot was in with a chance of winning the PGA Tour event at TPC Potomac in Maryland before dropping a shot at the final hole.
However, his effort in the first of three US events which feature in The Open Qualifying Series was good enough to secure a spot in the season’s third major.
It will be the 34-year-old’s sixth appearance in the Claret Jug joust but first since finishing in a tie for 44th at Muirfied in 2013.
“The Open was the golf tournament growing up that I used to go and watch with my dad and dreamt of playing in,” said Laird.
“I’ve been lucky to play in a few and to make this one is special and I’ll enjoy going back over there.
“I have never played Royal Birkdale, but I’ve heard great things about it and it will be fun to get over and learn the course.”
Laird joins Sandy Lyle, Paul Lawrie and Russell Knox in the line-up, with more chances for Scots to add to that contingent coming up.
Tomorrow sees the Final Qualifying, which offers 15 spots in total at five venues, including Gailes Links in Ayrshire.
Three spots are also up for grabs for non-exempt players in both this week’s Irish Open at Portstewart then the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links next week.
Laird joined Kyle Stanley, Charles Howell III and Sunghoon Kang in securing spots through the Quicken Loans National.
Stanley won the event, beating Howell III in a play-off after they had finished in a tie for top spot on seven-under, two ahead of both Laird and Rickie Fowler.
Kenny Perry claimed his second US Senior Open and fourth over-50s major with an impressive victory at Salem Country Club in Massachusetts.
The 56-year-old from Kentucky had trailed fellow American Kirk Triplett by a shot heading into the final round but produced a brilliant bogey-free closing effort to win by two shots.
The two-under 68, which gave Perry a 16-under-par total, was the first flawless final round in the event by a winner since Bernhard Langer in 2010.
“It’s our goal to always win our championship,” said Perry as he savoured repeating his 2013 win in the USGA event. “I’ve never had such a mental challenge all week. It fell my way.”
Triplett closed with a 71 as he finished five shots ahead of third-placed Brandt Jobe, who stormed up the leaderboard on the back of a 62.
Sebior Open champion Paul Broadhurst tied for 12th on three-under, one ahead of Bernhard Langer, while Colin Montgomerie was joint-42nd on four-over after a closing 69.
American Danielle Kang made his LPGA breakthrough in style by winning the second major of the women’s season, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship,
The 24-year-old birdied the last at Olympia Fields in Illinois for a 13-under-par total, finishing a shot ahead of defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada.
“Having a major championship in my resume, I don’t know what it will do,” said Kang as she savoured claiming a title that earned her a $525,000 pay-day.
“But I do know that having the US Amateur as majors, and having a major win, it’s amazing.”
South Korea’s Chella Choi, who had led going into the final round, finished third on 10-under after a 71
New world No 1 So Yeon Ryu tied for 14th while Lydia Ko ended up joint-59th after disappointing closing rounds of 76 and 75.
Host club member James White won the East of Scotland Open at Lundin after the joint-leader following 54 holes, Steven Stewart, was disqualified for signing for the wrong score.
Stewart had led by a shot at the halfway stage before the Clydebank & District player signed for a 70 instead of a 71 in his third round.
The error came to light after Stewart, bidding to land the biggest win of his career, had started the final round.
Former Scottish Order of Merit winner White closed with rounds of 65 and 74 for a five-under-par 279 total,
He won by two shots from Irvine’s Stuart Easton, with Carnoustie’s Will Porter third on 284.
It was White’s first Order of Merit title triumph since he was reinstated to the amateur ranks last year after two fruitless years as a professional.
“I am really happy to have won in front of so many of members who supported me while I was playing professionally,” he said.
Top seed Darren Howie (Peebles) suffered a shock first-round exit in the Scottish Boys Championship, losing on the last to Jamie Marchbank (Dumfries & Galloway) at Scotscraig.
Scottish Boys Stroke-Play champion John Paterson (St Andrews New) also crashed out, losing at the 20th to Steven Pears (Nairn Dunbar), but defending champion Eric McIntosh (Bruntsfield Links) is safely through to the last 32.
In the girls’ event at the same venue, Aboyne’s Shannon McWilliam was helped by a hole-in-one at the 148-yard sixth as she progressed to the quarter-finals.
Dornoch’s Jimmy Gunn tied for 32nd behind American Lanto Griffin in the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Open.
Gunn shot rounds of 72-67-71-69 for a nine-under total, seven shots behind Griffin, who beat Abraham Ancer at the first hole in a play-off.