Steve Stricker ‘lucky to be alive’ after lengthy hospital stay with heart inflammation, illness

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U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker revealed on Tuesday that he has spent the last several months in and out of a hospital battling a “mysterious ailment.”

Though it wasn’t related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stricker told WisconsinGolf’s Gary D’Amato on Thursday that he’s “lucky to be alive.”

“I’m down 25 pounds,” he said, via WisconsinGolf. “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.”

Steve Stricker dealing with heart inflammation

Stricker first withdrew from the QBE Shootout in November due to what the PGA Tour called a “nagging, non-COVID-related virus.”

Just days before that statement was put out, however, Stricker was actually discharged from a Wisconsin hospital — and was still extremely sick.

Stricker told WisconsinGolf he started experiencing a sore throat in October, shortly after he helped lead the U.S. team to a Ryder Cup win the month before. His white blood cell count soared and he started dealing with inflammation around his heart. It then went in and out of rhythm for weeks.

Stricker said he first realized he was dealing with something serious after a hunting trip. That night after they got back, he said, the 54-year-old’s temperature spiked and it felt like he was having an allergic reaction.

“So, I went into the hospital about two weeks before Thanksgiving and they kept me in there,” he said, via WisconsinGolf. “That’s when the s*** hit the fan ... 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-colored pee.”

Stricker was discharged 11 days later, just before Thanksgiving, but he ended up back in the hospital just three days later.

“You don’t know where this road is leading to,” he said, via WisconsinGolf. “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."

Doctors still aren’t positive what sent Stricker to the hospital, but he’s working with a cardiologist to make sure the inflammation around his heart goes down and stays down.

He was discharged from the hospital a second time before the end of the year, and is now in Florida with his family. Stricker said he still can’t eat any solid food and is on several medications.

“My heart is in rhythm now,” he said, via WisconsinGolf. “It was jumping in and out of rhythm from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas Eve. 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.”

Stricker, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, hasn’t competed there since the 3M Open in July. He did compete multiple times on the PGA Tour Champions after that, most recently a T7 finish at the Constellation Furyk & Friends in October. He finished inside the top 10 in 11 of his 13 PGA Tour Champions appearances last season.

While he's started chipping again, it's still unknown when Stricker will make his return. A doctor told him it’s going to be about six months, at least.

“I’m on the shelf for a little while," Stricker said, via WisconsinGolf. "I’m doing a little walking now, but not very much. I’m just trying to get back on my feet a little bit more.”

Steve Stricker of the United States
Steve Stricker has been in and out of the hospital in recent months dealing with heart inflammation. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)