McIlroy will compete at Sentry Tournament of Champions

AP photo Rory McIlroy will compete in the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time in January

Rory McIlroy, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour and currently the No. 6-ranked golfer in the world, will play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time at next year’s event at the Kapalua Plantation Course, scheduled for Jan. 2-6.

McIlroy confirmed his commitment to the tournament in a press release given exclusively to The Maui News on Monday.

McIlroy qualified for the winners-only tournament with a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. During the final round, McIlroy collected five birdies over his last six holes and closed with an 8-under 64 for a three-shot victory.

“I’m incredibly excited to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January for the first time,” McIlroy said. “It’s a meaningful tournament to qualify for, because you have to win to get in, and winning is not easy on the PGA Tour.”

McIlroy added, “I can’t wait to get out to Maui in January to experience The Plantation Course and everything the island has to offer.”

With three months left for players to play their way into the field, 30 PGA Tour winners have already qualified with victories earlier in the 2018 calendar year, including eight first-timers — Brice Garnett, Michael Kim, Satoshi Kodaira, Andrew Landry, Troy Merritt, Francesco Molinari, Andrew Putnam and Aaron Wise.

Wise won the Kaanapali Classic college tournament as a University of Oregon freshman in November 2014 at the Royal Kaanapali Course. He won the NCAA individual and team titles with the Ducks in 2016.

* Robert Collias is at