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Rory McIlroy to play in 2017 SA Open

Ernie Els said he was thrilled that Rory McIlroy had kept his word to play in the tournament.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot during the third round of the 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic on January 31, 2015 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Rory McIlroy will be playing in the 2017 BMW SA Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club in January.

Ernie Els, who is the player-host of the second oldest national open championship in world golf, extracted the commitment when the South African played in the 2014 Irish Open, which is hosted by McIlroy's Foundation.

Els said he was thrilled that McIlroy had kept his word.

"Rory was very serious about coming to South Africa when I told him he 'owed me one' at the Irish Open. And I'm glad that he made the commitment so soon. His presence will help the growth of the SA Open which has been doing so well over the last few years."

McIlroy spent 95 weeks at number one on the official World Golf Ranking, the fourth-longest period at the summit of the list.

He is currently ranked number three and his participation in the upcoming 106th SA Open will give golf fans the opportunity to see one of the great modern players in action.

McIlroy will be up against defending champion Brandon Stone, as well as Retief Goosen, the two-time US Open winner who won the SA Open in 1995 and 2005.

Sunshine Tour Executive Director Selwyn Nathan said he's delighted that McIlroy is coming to South Africa.

"We are delighted that Rory will play in the SA Open. His presence adds even more value to the tournament for our generous hosts, the City of Ekurhuleni, and our title sponsor BMW South Africa."