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Local Athletes Compete in Special Olympics Northern California Golf Tournament

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SACRAMENTO -- Athletes from five local counties have trained for weeks to be at this year's Special Olympics Northern California Golf Tournament at Sacramento's Haggin Oaks Golf Club.

At 8:30 Friday morning, 130 athletes competed in one of three events. They participated in a 9-hole individual, 9-hole alternate, where athletes took turns with their partner or coach, and skills tests that involved putting, pitching and driving.

"A lot of the kids look forward to this. It's an outing, it's a gathering, it's out in the open," said Roger Estrada, a volunteer and father of one of the athletes. "And it's a little bit of a challenge. And it makes it exciting for all the kids out here."

Golfers represented five local counties -- Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo.

If they did well, they may be selected to compete in the USA National Special Olympics in Seattle next year.

"Getting a gold medal is awesome, I agree," said Jonathan Sparks, an athlete and volunteer. "But most important thing is doing the best you can, and being a role model for everybody else in this world."

A similar event will be taking place in Folsom on Sunday, for special athletes from other counties. That golf tournament will also feature an 18-hole event.