The Bel-Air Bomber
At the 1953 U.S. Public Links Championship in Seattle, Ted Richards Jr. topped a field including future Tour players Rod Funseth, Tony Lema and Doug Sanders. An Army Air Forces radio operator and a top turret gunner in World War II, Richards had been in a B-24 bomber that was hit during a raid over Iwo Jima. "I almost fell out the bomb door," he says. Richards was awarded a Purple Heart and returned to his native California. After his victory at the '53 Publinx he won the Bel-Air Country Club championship so often—18 times—that the trophy was renamed in his honor. Today, when Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, club champ Jack Wagner of Melrose Place and other Hollywood types play Bel-Air, they sometimes spot a sweet-swinging 75-year-old whose story few of them know: former Tech Sergeant Richards.