INCLINE VILLAGE, Nevada (AP) – George Archer, whose smooth putting stroke helped him win the 1969 Masters and 11 other titles on the PGA Tour, died after a yearlong battle with Burkitts Lymphoma. He was 65.

Archer died Sunday at his home in Incline Village.

“I was holding him and it was a beautiful experience,” Donna Archer said. “He was quite expressive about what a wonderful life he’d had, to be able to have that kind of career. He was on the tour for 40 years.”

The 6-foot-5 Archer cut a memorable figure among professional golfers and stood almost doubled over when he used his trademark putting stroke.

He won the Masters in 1969 by making key putts to close with an even-par 72 and hold off Billy Casper, Tom Weiskopf and George Knudson. Despite a lifetime exemption, Archer stopped playing the Masters in 1992 at age 52 because of numerous injuries that limited his career.

Archer still showed up at the Champions dinner every April until this year.

“We were very sorry to learn about the death of George Archer,” Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said. “As the 1969 winner, George attended the Champions dinner and he will sadly be missed. At this time, our thoughts are with the Archer family.”

Archer had seven surgeries, but still managed to carve out a solid career with 12 PGA Tour victories and 19 on the Champions Tour, the last one coming in 2000 at the MasterCard Championship. He earned over $10 million in his 40 years of professional golf, playing in 999 tournaments on the regular and senior tours.

He set the PGA Tour record for fewest putts in a four-round tournament with 95 in the 1980 Sea Pines Heritage Classic. The mark was broken by Bob Tway in 1986.

Born Oct. 1, 1939 in San Francisco, he won his first PGA Tour on his hometown course, capturing the 1965 Lucky International at Harding Park. The city-owned course will be back in the spotlight next week when it hosts a World Golf Championship event.

“George was a tough competitor who, as many golfers know, was a master with the putter,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “George will be missed by all who walked the fairways with him, and those of us who got to know him outside the ropes.”

His daughter, Elizabeth, became the first female caddie in the history of the Masters when she carried her father’s bag during the 1983 tournament, the first year that players could bring their own caddies.

After several rounds of chemotherapy in the past year, he gave up treatment five weeks ago. He left his house for a final round of golf on Aug. 25.

Archer is survived by his wife and two daughters, Elizabeth and Marilyn.

A public memorial service is planned for Oct. 25 in Gilroy, Calif.

AP-ES-09-26-05 1634EDT

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