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Jack Nicklaus's mother, Helen, died at her home in Columbus yesterday morning, sending a wave of speculation that the five-time PGA Champion would withdraw from what many expect to be his final appearance at the event.

But Nicklaus released a statement yesterday afternoon confirming that he would play as scheduled.

"As many of you know, my mother passed away this morning," he said. "Barbara [Nicklaus's wife]and I were fortunate, however, to have spent time with her on Monday before leaving for the PGA Championship. We all miss here very much."

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His mother had been seriously ill for two years, Nicklaus said.

"Her greatest fear in the last year or so was that she would pass away during one of golf's major events. I know her wish would be for me to stay here and play. I certainly would not want to not fulfill her last wishes, so I have decided to compete in the PGA Championship."

Nicklaus is expected to tee off this morning at 9:13 EDT in a group with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. He'll fly to Columbus after his round to be with his family and fly back to Louisville Friday morning to make his 1:25 tee time.

Helen Nicklaus was 91 and died in her home of natural causes.

There never seems to be a routine quiet moment for Scotland's Colin Montgomerie when he comes over to the United States. Montgomerie has had to respond to quotes in the recent edition of Golf World in which he blames television commentator David Feherty for creating problems after dubbing him "Mrs. Doubtfire" for his well-rounded physique -- or at least what used to be a well-rounded physique.

Montgomerie, the world's fourth-ranked player, says he's lost 20 pounds since the U.S. Open and hopes that it will serve him well in the heat and humidity of a Kentucky summer.

"It's not for this particular week, but I am glad because it is rather warm," Montgomerie said, but added that the benefits will likely be more mental. "What happens when I lose weight is my self-esteem rises, and there's no point doing one's job in public if you don't have good self-esteem out there. I hadn't had that for a couple of years and I wanted it.

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"The crowd notices it and that is giving me more confidence."

One of the perennial "best players to never win a major," Montgomerie is pulling out all the stops to win his first tournament in the United States and his first major this week all at once.

He decided to treat it like a European Tour event and simply show up Tuesday night and play one practice round, rather than the two or three he typically plays before majors.

"We are going for this tactic this time. I have never won one of these, so I am trying everything new to try and do it," he said. "Whether I come in on Thursday morning next time, I don't know, but we are going later and later."

Mike Weir is the only Canadian citizen in the field this week, but Stephen Ames is the only Canadian resident. While Weir lives in Draper, Utah, Ames calls Calgary home. The native of Trinidad-Tobago, who is married to a Canadian and has two Canadian-born children, says he'll never move.

His residency has been a sticky issue for him ever since Ames tried to tell a U.S. immigration officer that he was an American resident a few years ago. That fib caused years of visa problems for Ames and put his career in limbo for the past two years. This past May he secured a visa that will allow him to move freely between the United States and Canada for the next two years. After that, he has a better plan -- he's going to take out Canadian citizenship.

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It's not the heat, it's the humidity. You know it's hot when South African Ernie Els thinks so. Actually, Els really did say that it wasn't the temperatures, which have hovered in the low-90s Fahrenheit all week, which will make things uncomfortable for many players, but the soupy air that has players sweating through their pants.

"The humidity tears you apart after 15 holes," said Els, who will be trying to win his first major since the 1997 U.S. Open. "I think a lot of players are going to probably struggle a little bit with the heat and humidity, but I find it to my advantage. It kind of keeps me loose and I don't have to go out and practice too much because you want to try and keep your strength and concentration."

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