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Special Olympics charity event kicks off Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A group of local celebrities and sports legends gathered at TPC Scottsdale golf course for a nine-hole charity putting tournament benefitting the Special Olympics on Tuesday.

Ten Special Olympics athletes paired up with current and former members of Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks at the practice green near the 18th hole for the 2014 CBS Outdoor Special Olympics Open.

“This is really special…these kids work so hard to get here and they’re true athletes,” said Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians. “They work as hard as the Cardinals work.”

Arians and his partner finished their round at two over par, just short of former Diamondback pitcher Randy Johnson and his partner, who won the tournament at one over.

Johnson said he was glad to be a part of the event and to support both the Special Olympics and the event’s organizer, the Thunderbirds.

“The Thunderbirds, who really organize the Phoenix Open, they do a great job,” he said. “This is an organization that gives back to local communities over $6 million annually.”

Even with so many skilled professional athletes involved, former Phoenix Sun Tom Chambers said the event is really about recognizing the Special Olympic athletes.

“It’s just about the kids, and the event and kicking off this golf tournament,” he said. “We have a tremendous time.”

The week is not over for Johnson and Arians though, as they will be among several others playing in Wednesday’s Pro-Am at TPC Scottsdale as well.

The event was capped off with the presentation of a $55,000 check given to Special Olympics Arizona.