Arlene English of Congressional, playing in the final group of the day, bogeyed the final hole but finished with net 71 to take the first round lead of the 36-hole Women's District Golf Association Keefer Cup yesterday at Chevy Chase club.

English topped her tee shot on the par-4 18th hole, hit a five-wood second shot from heavy rough and struck her three-wood third shot onto the green, four feet from the cup. She missed the putt and settled for a one-shot lead with 80-9-71.

At 36, English is a graduate student in communications at American University and wears braces on her teeth. "I'm doing everything late in life," she said.

Including playing good golf. Before her shaky finish, English had made five pars and a birdie on the back nine. "I got excited about some good pars I made . . . and that made me swing too quickly on the final hole," she said.

Lorraine Elder four-putted her last hole, the slick ninth green, but made four birdies and was tied for second at net 72 with Army Navy clubmate Fran Schultz. Elder shot 79-7-72 while Schultz, who had a strong chipping and putting round, carded 80-8-72.

Elder tied new WDGA member Angie Munno of Argyle for low gross, 79. Munno had no birdies but made 12 pars. Munno left the course to attend her final day of classes in her junior year at the University of Maryland, where she majors in nuclear engineering.

Munno was tied at net 75 with Bobbie Kane (87-12-75) and Nancy Hollenbeck (83-8-75), both of Army Navy, which had seven golfers among the top 18.

Carol Hawley of the host club was fourth at 85-12-73, followed by Doris Carpenter of Lakewood, 86-12-74.

Kim Williams of Bethesda, last year's champion, is at Mississippi State and unable to defend her title.

The final round starts this morning at 8:30.