Steve Stricker said a mystery illness caused severe weight loss and threatened his life late last year.
"Everything was going south and they’re telling me they don’t know. It would have been probably easier if they’re like, 'This is what’s going on,'" Stricker told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal. "They’re checking for all these big things—cancers, liver cancer, liver problems, and you’re just hoping and praying nothing’s going to come back with a bad reading. They took a biopsy of my liver. There were a whole bunch of things.
"Looking in the mirror and seeing what I looked like was not very comforting, just knowing what my brother went through."
Stricker's brother Scott died in 2014 at age 51 after suffering from issues that included Crohn's disease, a liver transplant and malfunctioning kidneys. As Stricker was dealing with his illness, he lost 25-30 pounds, suffered from jaundice (a typical sign of liver disease) and was diagnosed with pericarditis and an irregular heartbeat.
Doctors still have not been able to determine the cause of the illness. There was no sign of cancer, and he did not test positive for COVID-19.
"I felt like, 'I’ll get through this,'" Stricker said. "The one good thing is when they were drawing these samples of blood and coming back and saying, 'Nope, we’re not seeing anything. There’s no cancer. There’s no other issues. We’ve checked all these major things and nothing.' So I’m like, 'OK, it’s like an inspection of your car. They checked everything and nothing came back.' I’m like, 'OK, that’s good news.'
"Even though they were telling me, 'We can’t find it,' I was taking that as, 'OK, I’ve dodged another bullet, really, of something they were looking for.'"
Stricker missed six months of competitive golf but has returned as a force on the Senior Tour, winning the Regions Tradition major in May. The 55-year-old has won four major championships since moving full time to the Senior Tour and is currently the second-ranked senior player in the world.
Given his health struggles, Stricker said his triumphs on the golf course have become even sweeter.