Els: McIlroy promised to play '17 South African Open

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Rory Mcllroy’s 2017 playing schedule likely will include a trip to South Africa.

Ernie Els, who is the player/host of this week’s South African Open, said Tuesday that McIlroy has promised to play in next year’s event. 

Els said he made the arrangement with McIlroy last year, when the Big Easy committed to play in the Irish Open.

“I thought I’ll leave him this year, but definitely next year we’ll get him down here, maybe put him up in Cape Town, have a good New Year down there, and get him to come and play,” Els said in a story posted on the Sunshine Tour’s website.

“I gave him two years to do his thing, and he’s such a great friend of ours and a great supporter of our charity and stuff like that, and we might not even stop there. We’re looking at some other really great players. It’s coming. It’ll happen. I’m really excited about that.” 

McIlroy, who is skipping this week’s Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, will begin his 2016 campaign in two weeks in Abu Dhabi.

This week’s South African Open is the fourth event on the 2015-16 European Tour schedule, and the first this calendar year.