Larry Ringer, pro at the Naval Academy, shot 69 despite two bogeys on the last three holes for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the 54-hole Maryland Open yesterday at Indian Spring.

"I was choking my guts out coming in," Ringer said of his faltering finish.

After three birdies on the front nine and two on the back, Ringer said, he was hoping to shoot 66. But the Middle Atlantic section champion hit his seven-iron approach shot over the 16th green, then under-clubbed himself and was short of the green with his tee shot on the par-3 17th. He bogeyed both holes.

Gary Mankulish, who said he almost withdrew from this tournament after learning of the death of longtime friend Ray Shields, was tied for second at 71 with Bob Bilbo, Jim Seeley, Mark Hermann and amateurs Jack Skilling, Gary Marlowe, Larry Rentz, Brad Pritchard and Ed Offterdinger.

Marlowe, who said he is playing better than when he won the Maryland Amateur two weeks ago, double-bogeyed the 17th hole after hooking his two-iron tee shot. He sank a long putt for birdie on the final hole.

Seeley, who along with Bilbo played in the Kemper Open, drove the ball poorly and went out in 37, but rebounded with three birdies on the back nine.

Defending champion Wheeler Stewart of Congressional bogeyed his final two holes and was at 74, but still liked his chances to win. He took the title last year at Hillendale after an opening round 77 and expects the tees will be set farther back here each day.

"The golf course is going to start playing tougher," Stewart said. "After tomorrow 145 or 146 should be leading the tournament. I hope they move the tees all the way back."

The leading Middle Atlantic PCA money winner, Brian Staveley, withdrew after being involved in a minor auto accident Sunday night.