June 27 (Reuters) - Phil Rodgers, a five-times PGA Tour winner who also lost a playoff at the British Open, has died at the age of 80, the PGA Tour announced on Wednesday.
Rodgers, who had been battling leukemia for many years, died at his home in San Diego, California.
Rodgers recorded his tour victories between 1962 and 1966, but never won after the age of 28.
He had an outstanding record at the British Open, though he never lifted the Claret Jug.
After finishing third in 1962, he tied with New Zealander Bob Charles after 72 holes at Royal Lytham in 1963, one stroke ahead of Jack Nicklaus. The British Open used a 36-hole playoff at the time, and Charles prevailed easily by eight strokes.
Rodgers also finished fourth at the 1966 British Open won by Nicklaus.
His best result in an American major was equal third at the 1962 U.S. Open.
“I’m not sure that I could have handled being a major champion,” Rodgers told Golf.com in 2008.
“I couldn’t have handled the responsibility.”
But Rodgers’ earned a major assist for helping resurrect Nicklaus’s short game in time for the Golden Bear to win the 1980 U.S. Open.
“Phil totally revamped my short game and gave me confidence,” Nicklaus says. “It was a significant part of why I won.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Hugh Lawson)