Gary Marlowe parred the final three holes while watching playing partners Bruce Lehnhard and Mike Ball fall apart over the same distance, to take a two-stroke lead after 36 holes of the Maryland Open golf championship yesterday at Manor.

Marlowe and 42 other players who made the cut of the original field of 151 will play in today's final round, starting at 8 a.m.

After shooting a first-round 66 Monday for a one-stroke lead over Lehnhard, Ball and Mark Alwin, Marlowe began yesterday's round inauspiciously, losing two strokes to par on the first three holes. The 19-year-old, who plays out of Woodmont and attends Louisiana State University, then birdied the fourth, bogeyed No. 7 and made the turn one over par after birdieing the ninth.

Marlowe salvaged a par 35 for the back nine by birdieing the 12th and matching par for the final three holes despite blustery winds and a horrible tee shot on the 238-yard 17th. After cold-topping the shot just 115 yards off the tee, Marlowe hit a fine nineiron shot from the rough that rolled dead just three feet short of the pin. He sank it for a 3 and parred the 18th for a 71 for the day and a 137 total.

Meanwhile, Lehnhard, the pro at Evergreen who started the day one stroke behind Marlowe's 66, was shooting a two-over-par 13 on the final three holes to finish with a 74 and a 141 total.

But Ball, an amateur who plays out of Manor, was having even greater difficulties on the final three holes. After making a par 4 on the 16th, Ball double bogeyed the 17th when he missed four-foot and two-foot putts. Then on the final hole he hit his second shot into the rough, pitched the next one over the pin to the rough on the other side of the green and finally sank a 12-foot putt. Ball had been assessed a one-stroke penalty for tapping the ball before his third shot and finished the hole with a double-bogey 6 and the second round with a 77 after a first-round 67.

Last year's winner, Marty West of Columbia, shot the day's best score, a one-under-par 69. West had to finish the final three holes of the first round yesterday morning because rain Monday suspended play. He shot a 70 for the first 18 holes and had a two-round total of 139 for second place.

West, who started on the back nine birdied Nos.12, 14 and 18. That gave him a 33 for his nine holes of the day.

Alwin of Woodholme came into the second round with a 67. However, he shot a double-bogey 6 on the 13th and finished the day with a 73 and a total of 140, tying him with amateur Perky Cullinane of Columbia (68-72) for the third place.

Mark Dilley, a pro at the University of Maryland course, soared to a 78 after a 68 in the first round. Diley recorded seven bogeys and one double bogey.