Rory McIlroy needs to produce some serious wedge to get his European Tour career back on track.

The Holywood teen, 18, has missed five cuts out of eight in his rookie season.

And after slumping to 121st in the Order of Merit, he is outside the top 115 who will keep their card at the end of term.

According to McIlroy's ISM management spokesman Stuart Cage, poor wedge play has cost the Ulster kid dear in recent weeks.

Cage said: "Rory is actually playing well but he made a lot of bogeys in Korea with a wedge in his hand.

"It's all about scoring well with the short irons and instead of setting up birdies from the middle of the fairway, he was making bogeys.

"Once you turn that around, you start moving in a whole new direction and instead of battling to make the cut you are up there in contention."

McIlroy has missed his last three cuts on the trot, failing by a shot in Dubai before taking a month off to recharge.

On his return in Malaysia, he missed out by 11 strokes as he struggled to come to terms with the grainy greens.

And there was more disappointment the following week when he missed the cut by three shots in the Ballantine's Championship.

The former world amateur No 1 declared in Malaysia that he is not in panic mode about his card.

Ireland's Darren Clarke, Gary Murphy, Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane join McIlroy in Marbella.

But the event also marks a tentative return to action by two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who is testing his fitness after seven months on the sidelines.

The Spaniard, 42, has been out of action since last August because of rheumatic pains in his shoulders and groin.

Olazabal said: "Even sitting down for any length of time has been painful, but the good news is that tests indicate a marked improvement and my long-term aim is to get back in action in January.

"I've seen a lot of doctors and they've done all kinds of tests. They know it's some kind of rheumatism, but they don't know what was caused it and it's just a matter of treating the symptoms until they go away.

"I believe I have another five or six good years in me and I want to get playing as soon as possible."

Olazabal was keen to stress that his participation in an event promoted by pals Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño is no more than a test.

He added: "It does not mean that I am back to competition on a regular basis. I am going to test myself and see how I feel, how does my body react.

"I am coming to Aloha with doubts, I am not sure whether it will be a matter of just one week and then back home, or I can continue playing some more tournaments.

“I would not like people to get a wrong idea of the situation, I don't want anybody to think that I am back. I am not completely recovered, neither am I feeling a hundred per cent. This is just a test".

Defending champion Lee Westwood is the favourite to lift the title again.