J.P. Leigh of Portsmouth birdied the ninth, 13th and 15th holes as he shot his second consecutive 71 yesterday to capture the qualifying medal at the 72nd Virginia State Amateur golf tournament at Country Club of Fairfax.

Leigh recovered after being three over par after the first four holes. Tom McKnight of Galax, the defending champion, finished second in the two-round qualifying with a 73, 70 -- 143. Match play for the 32 qualifiers begins today at 8.

Leigh, 37, a former pro, shot the back nine of the par-71, 6,712-yard course in two-under 33 to edge out McKnight.

However, it took a late collapse by Tim Vigotsky of Reston for Leigh to win the qualifying medal for the first time. He was beaten out of it in a playoff two years ago in Blacksburg.

Vigotsky, tied with Leigh at 71 after the first round, was two under par coming to the 17th hole yesterday, but he double-bogeyed the final two holes for a 73 and 144.

Besides McKnight's 70, the only two other sub-par rounds in the two-day qualifying were 69s turned in yesterday by Mark Lawrence of Richmond, the 1980 champion, who totaled 145, and Chuck Wemp of Lynchburg (146).