The 31-year-old Glaswegian has taken seven weeks off the PGA Tour but has returned as though he has never been away.
A run of four straight birdies from eight through to 11 meant he led Bae Sang-moon and Zach Blair by a stroke on ten under.
“You never know how you’re going to play after seven weeks off like I had,” Laird said afterwards.
“Just to come out and put back-to-back 67s up and play very solid – very solid 67s – I’m extremely happy.”
American Scott Langley was next on the leaderboard on eight under, sharing the third spot with Sweden’s David Lingmerth and compatriot Mark Hubbard. The 25-year-old Hubbard was one of two players to record a hole in one in the second round, going straight in on the par-three seventh.
His round of 65 was a low for the day, although the other player to make a one-shotter, Billy Hurley III, failed to make the cut.
US Ryder Cup player Hunter Mahan was one of a number on six under par, with Matt Kuchar back on five under.
England’s Lee Westwood was three under for the second round, allowing him to repair some of the damage of a disappointing first day, but even so he remained eight shots off Laird’s pace.
Meanwhile, at the Portugal Masters Scot Richie Ramsay was a victim of the heavy rain that caused the tournament to be reduced to 54 holes. The 31-year-old Aberdonian shot a first-round 70 at Vilamoura but then had to withdraw after slipping and injuring his ankle.
He tweeted: “Withdrew today. Slipped in the wet and dark going over my left ankle. Painful but gd work from @ETPI_Physiounit. No much luck this year”.
Frenchman Alexander Levy will head into today’s final round with a three-stroke lead after Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts could not make up any ground.
Levy had been one of only six players to be able to complete his second round on Friday, getting into the clubhouse with a 61 to sit 18-under. Although Belgian Colsaerts – who had shot 60 on Thursday – still had two holes left to try to close the gap when play was able to resume, he could only return pars on the eighth and ninth to card a 67. Colsaerts is second on 15 under.