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'I'm still dealing with inflammation around the heart' - US Ryder Cup captain on frightening illness

Steve Stricker says in an interview with Wisconsin Golf that he feels lucky as he slowly recovers.

Steve Stricker poses with the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup.
Steve Stricker poses with the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

RYDER CUP captain Steve Stricker says in an interview with Wisconsin Golf that he feels lucky as he slowly recovers from a frightening illness that led to inflammation around his heart.

Stricker, who guided the United States to a historic triumph over Europe in the match play golf showdown at Whistling Straits in September, found himself in hospital not long after and still faces a long road to full recovery.

“I’m still on no activity. I’m still dealing with inflammation around the heart,” Stricker said. “That part is getting better, though, all the time.

“I’m down 25 pounds,” Stricker, 54, added. “I’m freshman-in-high school weight. I lost all my muscle. I look like an 85-year-old man, dude. My skin is hanging.”

After one 11-day stint in hospital Stricker was discharged in late November, only to be readmitted three days later.

The scary chain of events had started with a sore throat and cough on 23 October, less than a month after the Ryder Cup concluded.

“I kind of have a feeling that (the Ryder Cup) could have had a part in it,” he said. “It’s a letdown, right, after that happens? And then your immune system is probably down. It probably played a role in it somehow.”

Stricker tested negative for Covid-19 and was treated with antibiotics that failed to solve the problem.

A PGA Tour news release dated 30 November saying he had withdrawn from the QBE Shootout due to a “nagging, non-Covid-related virus,” gave no real indication of how ill he was, with his liver as well as his heart affected.

“I was pretty sick, from what they tell me,” Stricker said, but added that his heart rhythm was now normal.

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“It was jumping in and out of rhythm from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas Eve,” he said. “So, knock on wood. And I’m on less medication. The inflammation number that they can find out with blood tests is saying that my inflammation is going down. And it must be, because I’m feeling better.

“I’m walking around a little bit. I’m starting to be a little bit more active and building a tolerance a little bit better. So, things are definitely better.

“I’m lucky,” he said. “I’m feeling like things are going in the right direction. I’ve just got to give it time.”

– © AFP 2022

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