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‘My liver was going downhill ... I got jaundice and had Pepsi-coloured pee' – Steve Stricker lucky to be alive

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USA captain Steve Stricker celebrates with the Ryder Cup after at Whistling Straits in September. Stricker became ill over the following months. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

USA captain Steve Stricker celebrates with the Ryder Cup after at Whistling Straits in September. Stricker became ill over the following months. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

USA captain Steve Stricker celebrates with the Ryder Cup after at Whistling Straits in September. Stricker became ill over the following months. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Winning Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker insists he's lucky to be alive after suffering a mystery non-COVID illness that put him in hospital for weeks.

The Wisconsin native reckons his health problems, which have seen him shed 25 lbs (11.3kg), could have been a physical reaction to September's Ryder Cup win at Whistling Straits.

"It's a letdown, right, after that happens," he said of the record 19-9 Ryder Cup win over Pádraig Harrington's European team in his native Wisconsin. "And then your immune system is probably down. It probably played a role in it somehow."

According to a report by Gary D'Amato of Wisconsin Golf, Stricker (54) explained that what began as a bad cough and sore throat in mid-October changed into something "far worse", including inflammation around the heart.

Prescribed an antibiotic by his doctor after testing negative for COVID-19, he improved initially but began to feel ill again after a hunting trip a few weeks later and was admitted to hospital.

"I came home from hunting one night and I was like, 'I don't feel good. My side hurts. I just don't feel right,'" Stricker told Wisconsin Golf. "That night I had the sweats and all of a sudden, my temperature was 103.

"I went back to my primary and got amoxicillin, a heavier antibiotic. And I think I had a reaction to that. My throat started to close up, my lips got puffy, my glands got puffy, my tongue got puffy. It was like an allergic reaction. I was still having these 103-degree temps.

"So, I went into the hospital about two weeks before Thanksgiving and they kept me in there. That's when the s**t hit the fan. My liver numbers started getting worse. My white blood cell count was jacked up really high. I was fighting something, but they couldn't find out what it was. My liver was going downhill. I got jaundice. I was yellow and peeing out Pepsi-coloured pee."

The 12-times PGA TOUR winner experienced a heart rate of 160 beats per minute for two hours at one stage before he was released for Thanksgiving.

However, he was readmitted to hospital three days later.

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"A couple of times I was like, 'What is going on?'" Stricker said. "Everything is going the wrong way. It wasn't fun. You don't know what's happening. You don't know where this road is leading to. I never thought that I'm not getting out of there kind of thing. But I didn't eat for two weeks. I didn't have any energy or appetite to eat.

"I had a hard time just getting up and walking because of the heart. I took a few steps to the bathroom in my room and I'd be out of breath. I was pretty sick, from what they tell me."

Now living at his Florida base having been released from hospital and cleared to travel on January 1, Stricker says he's still on no-activity orders and is only able to walk short distances.

He has lost more than 25lbs (11.3 kg) and been told by his cardiologist it will be six months before he can return to competition.

"I'm still on no activity. I'm still dealing with inflammation around the heart," he told WisconsinGolf. "That part is getting better, though, all the time. They took an MRI right before Christmas and it was still there, this inflammation, but it's going down. I'll have another MRI on the 20th (of January). If it's gone, then I can start to do things.

"I'm down 25 pounds. 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."

Stricker, who turns 55 next month, said his goal is to play in The Players Championship in March having earned his exemption by winning the Senior Players Championship last year.


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