Dave King, a two-time Maryland amateur champion, playing steadily while others faltered, shot a one-under-par 71 for a 144 total and a three-shot lead going into today's final round of the fifth annual Washington Area Amateur Champions golf tournament at Marlboro Country Club.

"That's about as steady a round as you'll ever see," said King, 39, a statistician for the Public Health Service who plays out of both Bethesda and Prince Georges country clubs.

King started the day one stroke behind first-round coleaders Greg Carpousis of Army Navy and Tim Vigotsky of Reston, who quickly fell behind. Carpousis had to birdie the last two holes to be second at 75 -- 147, while Vigotsky had 78 -- 150.

Carpousis hooked a shot into water on the first hole and took doublebogey 6. Vigotsky bogeyed the third and fourth holes and left King, playing in the same group, and Bob Hawkins, playing in the group ahead, tied for the lead.

Hawkins, of Pinecrest, after shooting even par on the front nine, took a breif lead with a birdie on No. 10. But he bogeyed four of the last eight holes and is in third place at 75 -- 148.

King parred the first 13 holes before hitting the par-5 14th hole in two shots and two-putting for birdie. He took his only boegey when his approach shot landed in a bunker at 16. But he rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 17th -- a tight, water-laden hole that played easier than normal because the tees were moved up. King closed out his fine round with par on the final hole in pouring rain.

Buddy Peoples of Crofton, who matched King's 71 for low score of the day, is fourth at 149.

The field was cut to the low 75 and ties for today's final round.