Buddy Peoples of Crofton Country Club held off Jim Estes of Rockville to score a 1-up victory in the final of the 72nd Washington Metropolitan Golf Association men's amateur yesterday at Fairfax.

The outcome was not decided until the 36th hole, where Estes missed a 12-foot putt that would have given him a birdie.

Peoples, 37, a printing consultant from Severna Park, had held a 4-up lead after the morning's 18 holes, winning five back-nine holes for a 1-over-par 72.

Estes, last year's Maryland Amateur titlist and an excellent driver, whittled Peoples' lead to one after he birdied the 12th hole of the afternoon round. The last six holes of the match were halved in par, and Peoples escaped with his second big victory of the season. He won the Maryland Amateur in June.

"I think Estes is a great player," said Peoples, who moved to this area from Virginia Beach in 1979. "He had a chance to shoot 69 in the afternoon."

But Estes missed the birdie putt that would have sent the match into extra holes. "I wish I hit a better putt there," said Estes, who recently transferred from Tennessee to the University of Maryland. He plays out of Bethesda Country Club.

Peoples preserved the victory with his fine scrambling ability. As he held a 1-up lead, his second shot fell 40 yards short of the green at the par-4 16th (34th) hole. He wedged to within six feet of the hole and saved par to maintain his narrow lead.

He was 50 yards short of the next par-4 hole in two shots, but salvaged par there also. Only an excellent sand save for par by Estes kept the match alive.

Peoples won on the last green, where both players made par.

"I think experience kept me in the tournament," said Peoples, who made a hole in one in Friday's opening round.