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The Ryder Cup

Zach Johnson cares mostly about group chemistry for his American team at the Ryder Cup. He wants camaraderie. What he doesn't know is whether LIV players like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are part of that picture. The Ryder Cup is four months away in Rome. Johnson will have six captain's picks. Dustin Johnson and Koepka are unlikely to earn one of the six automatic spots. Captain Zach says he know enough about LIV Golf and the courses they play to judge how well they are doing. Johnson and Koepka say they'd love to be part of the team.

Curtis Strange has mixed memories of Oak Hill. He returns to the course outside Rochester, New York, next week for the PGA Championship as part of ESPN's broadcast team. Oak Hill is where Strange in 1989 became the first player since Ben Hogan to win back-to-back in the U.S. Open. It's also where Strange bogeyed his last three holes to lose a pivotal Ryder Cup match in 1995 that kept the Americans from winning. Strange hasn't been back to Oak Hill since that Ryder Cup. He says golf produces memories good and bad. But the Ryder Cup doesn't overshadow his U.S. Open win.

Scottie Scheffler is on another big run. That's how it was last year when he won four times in six starts and capped it off with the Masters. Now there seems to be a greater appreciation for what Scheffler is capable of doing. The 26-year-old from Dallas won The Players Championship by five shots. That's his second win in the last four starts. He nearly won at Bay Hill the week before. Scheffler is back to No. 1 in the world and his next two starts are tournaments he won last year.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker is recovering from a health scare that featured a soaring white blood cell count and inflammation around his heart, which hospitalized him for two weeks and caused him to lose 25 pounds.“I’m lucky,” Stricker told Wisconsin.Golf in a lengthy interview. “I’m feeling like things are going in the right direction. I’ve just got to give it time.”Stricker said his heart was jumping in and out of rhythm from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. He said the inflammation is starting to abate and he’s able to start moving around. The Wisconsin native was cleared to take his family to Florida for the winter at the start of the week.Even so, he said his cardiologist told him it could be six months before he competes again.It was a rough conclusion to what otherwise was the best memory of his career. In a Ryder Cup delayed one year by the pandemic, Stricker led a U.S. team to the biggest rout over Europe, 19-9, at Whistling Straits before a home crowd in Wisconsin.Stricker said for him, it was like winning a major. A month later came a major scare.It started with a sore throat and a cough. Stricker said a COVID-19 test came back negative, a few weeks later he felt well enough to go deer hunting.“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,’” he said. “That night I had the sweats and all of a sudden, my temperature was 103.”He went back to his doctor for a strong antibiotic and thinks he had a reaction, for his throat began to close and his lips, glands and tongue began to swell.He was hospitalized about two weeks before Thanksgiving, and that’s when his health took a nasty turn.“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,” he said.He said he had jaundice and his urine was the color of cola. Four days into his hospital stay, his heart started fluttering. Stricker said at one point his heart rate was 160 beats per minute for two hours.He was released the day before Thanksgiving, and then readmitted three days later feeling worse that before.“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.”Stricker said blood tests indicate the inflammation around his heart is coming down. He is able to walk short distances, but still not eating solid food.“I’m down 25 pounds. I’m freshman-in-high school weight. I lost all my muscle,” he said. “I look like an 85-year-old man, dude. My skin is hanging.”Stricker can only wonder how much the Ryder Cup took out of him. He devoted nearly three years to the job because of the one-year delay brought on by the pandemic. He had the pressure and distraction of delivering for a Wisconsin crowd. It was a smashing success.“I kind of have a feeling that 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.”

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