American Bubba Watson and Italian Francesco Molinari shared the early clubhouse lead at Whistling Straits with four-under-par opening rounds of 68.
That was one better than Australian Jason Day and US hope Ryan Moore, who also shone after poor visibility delayed the start of the season’s final Major by more than three hours.
Laird was just one stroke worse off among the earlier starters in Wisconsin, along with American veteran Jim Furyk and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
English-born Florida resident Brian Davis looked on course for a strong first round but faded and had to settle with carding a one-under-par 71.
That left him with the same score as Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, Italian Edoardo Molinari and Tiger Woods. World No1 Woods looked to have put recent struggles behind him with three birdies inside the first four holes. But three bogeys and a stream of pars pegged him back until he finished with a flourish, a three at the par-four ninth.
Another Englishman, Paul Casey, dropped two shots in his final three holes to end his round level par, alongside compatriot Luke Donald. “The scoring was very good considering the way I hit it,” said Casey. “This is a course where you have to keep it in play from tee to green.”