Winchester High golfers take down past WCC champs

Youth shall be served.

Two Winchester High School seniors now own the Winchester Country Club’s premier prize. Owen Egan knocked off seven-time club champion Brendan Monahan to become the youngest winner in the 118-year history of the event. His high school teammate Christine Mandile defeated 15-time winner Tracy Welch to take home the WCC Ladies Club Championship.

Egan thought of withdrawing during the first round due to a lingering wrist injury. But the 2019 Junior Club champion was playing so well he decided to soldier on, much to the dismay of the rest of the field.

“It was hurting, but I was 2-under after nine holes on the first day,” Egan said. “I felt if it could keep playing the way I did, I would be hard to beat. I had a goal in mind and I decided to go on and see where it takes me.”

Egan’s high school coach Tom Walsh wasn’t surprised at the perseverance.

“Owen is a very competitive young man,” Walsh said. “He’s just one of those kids who plays with an even keel. To go out there and perform the way he did, especially against a seven-time champion, is just amazing.”

After getting through the first two days, Egan showed his stuff in the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. He defeated Greg Badger on the final hole, then ousted former champion Jake Peer to advance to the finals against Monahan.

“He definitely came into the finals as the favorite,” Egan said of Monahan. “I’m this kid going up against someone who has won the championship seven times. I was the underdog and I kind of liked it.”

The match went back and forth. Monahan was 2-up after five holes, but Egan made up the deficit and took a short-lived lead before Monahan squared things at the break. Monahan regained the lead, but Egan rallied down the stretch and won the final two holes to clinch it.

“Winning the championship meant so much to me,” said Egan, a member of Winchester’s 2019 Division 2 state championship team. “It was great going out there in the final round having 100 people out there cheering for me.”

A week later, it was Mandile’s turn to bask in the spotlight. She shot a 1-over-par 75 on the final day, giving her a three-stroke victory over Welch.

“It means a lot to me to beat someone like (Welch),” said Mandile. “I felt the pressure because I knew that no one had beaten her in a long time. It was great to be able to go out there, have fun and play good golf.”

What made Mandile even happier was the fact she was able to share it with two of her Winchester High teammates. Phil Sughrue caddied for Mandile on the first day and Nico Fortier took over on the final day.

“That was a lot of fun,” Mandile laughed. “Nico knows I don’t like to know what my score is, so he wasn’t telling me. I really had no idea I was winning until the end.”

Mandile might be 17 years old, but Walsh says she displays the maturity of someone much older. He recounted a moment from two years ago.

“She was playing fifth and/or sixth on our boys team as a freshman and we qualified for the states,” Walsh recalled. “I sent eight players out to practice and told everyone they would have to use the men’s tees. Christine called me that night and told me she didn’t think she had the distance and pulled herself.

“There aren’t many freshmen, actually not many kids who would do that for the team. That’s why I named her one of my captains the last two years, something she’s been very deserving of.

“After her freshman year, she was determined to become a better golfer. She put in the time, became a two-time Middlesex League All-Star and played a big part on our state championship team.”

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