Two-time Tour winner Laird fired a five under par 66 to top the leaderboard alongside American Ryder Cup hopeful Patrick Reed.
World No. 1 Jason Day had a topsy turvy day around the turn, but finished strongly to shoot 68, good enough for a minus three total and a tie for seventh.
The Australian comes to New York as leader of the Fedex Cup, the year long points race culminating in a four event play-off series which sees the eventual winner pocket $10million dollars in prize money.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, playing his first event since his equipment sponsor Nike announced it is to discontinue its range of clubs, bags and balls, struggled on the greens and offset three birdies with three bogeys to fire a level par 71.
Luke Donald is the best places Englishman after the first round, and the former world number one sits in a tie for 11th after a two under par 69.
World number two Jordan Spieth also had an up and down day, ultimately bogeying his 18th hole to sit with Mcilroy on even par.
The two big guns are joined on that number by England’s Paul Casey, and the trio lie in a tie for 34th with three rounds to go.
It was a bad day for the Olympic medallists from Rio. Great Britain’s golden hero Justin Rose laboured to a two over round of 73, while Matt Kuchar, who took Bronze for the USA two weeks ago, could only go one better with a 72.
Silver medallist and Open Champion Henrik Stenson withdrew from the tournament after a three over 74, citing injury as the reason.
Now in its 10th year, the Fedex Cup has quickly built up an impressive history and become a more than fitting ending to the PGA Tour season. The top 125 players on the points list have qualified for the Barclays and the top 100 at the end of the week will advance to the Deutsche Bank in Boston.
Seven Brits are in the field in New York, including two-time 2016 winner Russell Knox and 2010 US Open champion Graeme MacDowell.
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