STATELINE, Nev. - Former NHL all-star Joe Sakic picked a good spot for his first career hole-in-one — a US$1 million two-hopper into the cup on the waterfront par-3 17th at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.
"That's a shot you never imagine hitting," said Sakic, who won two Stanley Cups and an MVP trophy with the Colorado Avalanche. "I've never even been close before."
For the last three years, any player hitting an ace on the signature hole at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course earned a $1 million bonus from tourney sponsor American Century, with the Kansas City-based investment company stipulating that half of the prize go to its primary charity benefactor.
So Sakic will split the $1 million with Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation for cancer research.
"If you're going to do it, why not here?" he said. "When it went in, I didn't believe it."
Sakic said he used an 8-iron for the ace on the 167-yard hole along Lake Tahoe's azure waters where dozens of yachts and boats annually set down anchor to catch a glimpse of the action on the course.
It marks the fourth hole-in-one in the tournament's 22-year-history.
Sakic couldn't tell at first if the ball went in the cup, but jumped in the air with his arms raised when he got the official word it had bounced into the hole in front of the pin. He exchanged high-fives with playing partners Trent Dilfer and Greg Maddox, then slapped hands with fans along the ropes as he made his way to the green.
"To be honest, I don't care how it went in," he told reporters afterward. "I'm just happy I got a hole-in-one for the first time in my life."
Sakic also starred at centre with Quebec during his 20 years in the NHL and recently took a front office job with the Avs. The 13-time all-star said the hole-in-one did "not quite" compare with the Stanley Cups he won with Colorado in 1996 and 2001. But he said it's not a fair comparison.
"I'm not used to this. I'm just rattled all the time," he said about the 54-hole golf tourney that draws a field of past and present sports stars and entertainers.
"We come out here for three days and feel like actual pros until you see us swing," he said. "This is just great."