DeMatha golfers Kelly Manders and Kyle Stough have been playing almost equally all season long. But the triple bogey each golfer had on the second hole at Congressional Country Club yesterday at the Washington Private Schools Championship was not the kind of dual performance they had been hoping for.

But both Manders and Stough settled down, bouncing back to tie at 2-over-par 73 for the best score of the day and leading the Stags to the championship.

"We've been posting the same scores pretty much all year," said Stough, a sophomore. "We got off to that rough start, but we both were comfortable here."

DeMatha, which ended a five-year drought in winning the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship last week, captured yesterday's Washington Private Schools title, known as the Metros, for the first time since 1999. The event, which started in 1938, featured the top two teams in the WCAC, DeMatha and Gonzaga, and the top two teams in the Interstate Athletic Conference, Georgetown Prep and Landon.

Along with the performance of Manders and Stough, Michael Doyle had a 77, Kyle Albrecht posted a 79 and Jason Smith had an 80 as the Stags finished with a 382 total. Landon, led by senior Chris O'Neill's 75, was second with 384. Gonzaga's Keith Hall also shot 75 and the Eagles finished third with 388.

"We have a great team, a great group of guys," Stough said. "We all kind of push each other."

Manders has won the last two junior club championships at Congressional, the prestigious 80-year-old golf course in Bethesda that has hosted two U.S. Opens. After his slow start on the 6,483-yard par-71 course, Manders started to feel comfortable on his home course. On the last hole, he made a birdie putt and settled for the tie with Stough, who birdied 18.

"You've got to keep the ball in play on this course or else you're going to have trouble," Manders said. "Most of the guys have played here before, but I definitely think I did have an advantage, playing here so much."

The course was unforgiving for most golfers, with dense woods around the fairways and fast, menacing greens. The IAC's top two golfers, Georgetown Prep seniors Kevin Vollmer and Greg Carlin, posted 76 and 75, respectively. The WCAC champ, Gonzaga senior Chris Derby, had a 77.

For DeMatha's Smith and Kalief Santos (11-over 81), the team's two seniors, the title, as well as the opportunity to play at Congressional, was worth the extra strokes on their scores.

"It's a lot of relief," Smith said. "We got to graduate with a title."

Said Santos: "I had the [highest] score on my team, but it doesn't really matter. I got to play at Congressional, that's probably not going to happen again after high school."

Landon's Chris O'Neill, flanked by Georgetown Prep's Greg Carlin, left, and DeMatha's Kelly Manders, hits off the tee on the 12th hole at Congressional. O'Neill finished with a 4-over 75.