Earl Biggett Jr. of New York City shot even-par 36 on Newbridge's back nine yesterday for his second straight 74 and a one-shot lead heading into today's final round of the Washington Area Amateur Champions tournament.

First-round leader Rodney Lathern of Newbridge shot a 79 amid swirling winds and tough pin placements. He is tied for second at 149 with two-time winner Dave King of Bethesda (77), defending champion Kim Dickerson of White Plains (77) and Jack Vardaman of Congressional (74).

Biggett (pronounced beget) plays for the University of South Florida. To make his tee time for Friday's opening round, he drove 17 straight hours from Tampa.

"My body tells me it doesn't want to swing, but I keep going," he said.

Biggett could have opened a wider lead but missed two tap-in putts and a four-footer.

But he passed a lot of golfers with his fine incoming nine holes. He sank a six-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole and a 25-footer for another birdie on the 13th hole.

"My putting came and went today," he said. "This course demands a lot of concentration. When you got on the greens, it was just beginning."

Lathern, who lives in Bladensburg, double-bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes. He rebounded with an eagle-3 on the 15th hole, then chipped into the cup for birdie on the 16th.

King, two-time winner of this event, has suffered from arthritis of the spine but now takes oral cortisone, which has relieved his problem.

His ailment forced him to skip this tournament last year and became so bad this winter he was afraid he would not play golf again.