Archer, '69 Masters champion, dies after long illness

Updated: September 25, 2005, 8:54 PM ET
By Mark Soltau | GolfDigest.com

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. -- George Archer, one of the best putters in PGA Tour history and winner of the 1969 Masters Tournament, died at his home Sunday after a long battle with Burkitts Lymphoma. He was 65.

A San Francisco native, the 6-foot-5 Archer turned professional in 1964 and won 12 times on the PGA Tour. He enjoyed even more success on the Champions Tour, capturing 19 titles. He also earned eight Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions victories.

"His transition was so graceful and courageous," said his wife Donna, who was at his bedside when he passed away. "The last year was very wonderful and full of beauty."

Archer, who overcame wrist, back, shoulder and hip injuries throughout his career, was diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma on Aug. 28, 2004. A memorial service is planned Oct. 25 in Gilroy, Ca.

His first PGA Tour win came at the 1965 Lucky International at Harding Park Golf Course in his hometown. But the highlight of his career came at the 1969 Masters, where Archer held off Billy Casper, George Knudson and Tom Weiskopf. In 1980, Archer established a PGA Tour record at the Sea Pines Heritage Classic for fewest putts over four rounds with 95.

In addition to his wife, Archer is survived by his daughters Elizabeth, a Presbyterian minister, and Lynne, a special education teacher. Elizabeth was the first female caddie at the Masters.

Mark Soltau is a contributing writer for Golf Digest magazine