Jim Gunn, a 69-year-old retired Army brigadier general, shot 3-under-par 32 on the front nine and finished at 72 yesterday, one shot off the lead in the Northern Virginia Amateur golf tournament at Army Navy.

Peter Jacobi, like Gunn a member of Army Navy, made three birdies and is the leader at even-par 71. Defending champion Gill FitzHugh, also of Army Navy, and Chuck Tickle of Chantilly are tied with Gunn at 72.

Gunn of Alexandria was the 1985 Virginia State Senior champion and is a three-time Army Navy Club champ. A member of the Arlington course for 27 years, he made three birdies on the front nine and said he knows the value of a short game.

"That's what pays in golf," said Gunn, who had tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam. "I can get it up and down from out of a trash basket."

Jacobi, 44, of Arlington, also had three birdies. He said the key to playing the tight course is "defense."

"Hit the ball below the hole and hit the 1-iron off the tee on short par-4 holes," are Jacobi's plans for the 54-hole tournament, which resumes on Saturday and concludes Sunday.

FitzHugh, a three-time winner of this event, suffered his third three-putt hole of the day on No. 18. Each resulted in a bogey. "Other than that, I played well," said FitzHugh.

Tickle is a quality player who moved to this area last year from Pulaski, Va.

Tied at 73 are Larry Spielberg of Westwood, Mike Matthews of Woodlawn, Bob Harwick and Barry Graham of Chantilly, and Ray Montgomery and Bob Johnson of Reston South. Ken Newlin of Chantilly, the champion two years ago, was penalized two shots for mistakenly hitting the ball of one of his partners, and is tied at 74 with four others.