Frank Ferguson, an amateur from International Town and Country Club, Billy King of Blue Hills and Mike Wynn of Evergreen all shot two-under-par 70 to share the first-round lead in the 24th Virginia State Open golf championship yesterday at Westwood Country Club.

Paul Gooden of Stanton was one shot back and Joey Hodges of Brandermill and Mike Felker of Warwick were two shots behind. Only six players equaled or bettered par on the 6,844-yard course.

Defending champion Clem King of Farmington headed a group of five at 73. King played well, hitting 16 greens in regulation, but made only two birdies.

"They have set the course up real well for this tournament," said King. "The easier holes where you might birdie have very tough pin placements and the longer tougher holes have easier pin placements."

Some of the 152 players thought that six- or seven-under-par would win this tournament. Others, including King, thought two- or three-under would win. King's prediction hasn't changed after the opening round.

"I still think two- or three-under will win because three 71s on this course is a good score," said King. "I wouldn't be surprised to see someone who shot 73 or 74 today win this thing."

King's 35 putts indicated that the greens were tough to read.

"I made only two birdies today, one out of the bunker on the par-5 14th," said King, who teed off in the afternoon, after many of the greens had become bumpier because of spike and ball marks. "The little holes made the greens tough, although I thought I read them well. But a lot of my putts broke differently than I planned. I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow when they're a little smoother."

Four amateurs joined King at 73: Tony DeLuca of Chantilly, Tim Vigotsky of Williamsburg, Paul Staley of Blue Hills and David Brogan of Lexington.