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Teeing off for charity

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

What would the Jake Milford Canucks Charity Invitational Golf Tournament be without rain?

Sloppy, mushy, dreary; you name it, 25 current Vancouver Canucks, 20 alumni, 11 members of Canucks management and guests participating in the 27th annual Jake faced it all yesterday at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey, but no one let the weather rain on their parade.

It was their golf games causing the most frustration.

Take Henrik Sedin on the Ridge Course, for example. After a solid tee shot on the 1st hole, a par-4, 346-yarder playing against the wind and slightly uphill, Hank’s second shot went thunk into a sand trap on the left.

Uh, oh.

Things only got worse when his shot from the trap sent a lot of tiny light brown particles in the air, but left the ball behind.

“It’s going to be a long round,” he mumbled to himself, much to the delight of his foursome, which included Orland Kurtenbach.

Roberto Luongo was making good contact with the ball off the tee and was putting and chipping well until the 4th hole, a 477-yard, uphill/downhill, dogleg left par-5.

“It’s how many yards?” Luongo asked again, eyes slightly bugged in disbelief.

He set up in the tee box looking confident, dressed in black from head-to-toe with custom Vancouver Canucks golf shoes keeping him grounded and a black hat serving as the cherry on top.

He gripped it, he ripped it; the ball sailed left and square into a tree.

“It’s harder to hit a tree than keep it on the fairway,” a member of his foursome said.

Good thing it was a shamble format for the Jake Milford Tournament and Luongo didn’t have to lumberjack his way out of the woods, instead using the team’s best drive off the tee as his second shot.

Good thing too everyone was playing in the name of charity and slamming clubs was put on the backburner for raising funds for the Canucks for Kids Fund and the BC Hockey Benevolent Association.

Since its first year, the Jake, presented this year by Goldcorp, has generated over one million dollars in community grants.

“This tournament is something that we’re very proud of,” said Victor de Bonis, chief operating officer for the Canucks and a 17-year veteran of the Jake Milford Tournament.

“To get the players of our current team together with the players of our history is just a real special day, then sharing that with our partners and community is just wonderful. Having an opportunity also to be with the alumni and support their cause as well as the Canucks for Kids Fund is just an all-around great day for everybody.”

It was an especially great day for Canucks Mikael Samuelsson and Dan Hamhuis.

Samuelsson had an up and down game filled with a mixed bag of great, good, decent, terrible and horrendous shots – watch him tackle the 7th hole here – but it was enough to help his group, including Rob Epp, Ken Sharpe and Dan Jeffries, to a final score of 36-under and a first place finish.

Hamhuis didn’t fair so well, he said it's because he was focused on transplanting his wife and two young kids to Vancouver instead of golfing over the summer, yet he still got into the spirit of the event, his first taste of the Canucks helping the community.

On his conference call with the media after being signed by the Canucks, Hamhuis said that one of the factors that led to him choosing Vancouver over other teams was how heavily the franchise is involved in charity work throughout British Columbia.

“I’m excited to be out here for the golf today, it goes to benefit some great causes and something that I enjoy doing, I enjoy helping out in the community and this golf game today really helps that out,” said Hamhuis.

“My wife and I, we’ve been very blessed with so many things and this platform that I’m on now as a professional athlete and the money we’ve been able to make, we just feel it’s so important to give back to the community whether it’s financially or just promoting a good cause and trying to raise awareness for different causes.”

Following the golf, a banquet was held at the golf and country club where former Canucks play-by-play broadcaster Bernie Pascall, a member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, BC Hockey Hall of Fame and Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was given the 2010 Jake Milford award for his service and dedication to hockey in British Columbia.

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