Fighting Lyme disease, Jimmy Walker finding a better place

From ESPN - January 11, 2018

This week's Sony Open in Hawaii is a special place for Jimmy Walker. It is where he has won two of his six PGA Tour titles, including in 2014 when he began to solidify himself as an emerging player with his second win and three years ago when he triumphed by nine strokes.

But even a trip to the tropical locale of Oahu -- along with those good vibes that surround the Waialae Country Club -- cannot wipe away Walker's struggles over the past year and how difficult life has been for a player who hoped to build on his 2016 PGA Championship victory.

Walker, who turns 39 on Jan. 16, was diagnosed in April with Lyme disease, a bacterial illness that took months to diagnose and can cause flu-like symptoms and general malaise.

Even after various treatments, Walker suffered from effects of the illness, making it difficult to practice and compete throughout 2017. He took many fall events off trying to get healthy and returns this week after playing only once since August.

"I do not know of anybody that's got it that can really describe it to you, but it's just not fun,'' Walker said. "It puts you in a bad mood. You do not feel good. You feel awful, like a lot. ... I have been very tired and fatigued and no strength and it comes and goes.''

In various interviews over the past several months, Walker's wife, Erin, noted how difficult it was for her husband to deal with the disease. She painstakingly sought treatment options.

Then, in a cruel twist, Erin Walker was diagnosed with Lyme disease in December. The disease is not transmittable and, like her husband, she is not certain how or where she contracted it.

"What works for one person with Lyme does not necessarily work for someone else,'' Erin Walker wrote on her personal blog last week. "But the biggest thing we can do is share what we are going through. We want people to be aware that this strange and horrible disease can happen to anyone.''

Jimmy Walker believes he contracted the illness on a hunting trip in November 2016 -- although he never saw any of the deer ticks associated with Lyme disease, nor did he have a rash that often accompanies a tick bite.

Soon after, he joined Rickie Fowler as U.S. teammates for the World Cup in Australia "and I just started feeling awful."


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