Miguel Angel Jimenez knew entering this year it was probably his last chance to make his fourth Ryder Cup team.
Now, following his second playoff victory of the season on Sunday in the alstom French Open, the 46-year-old Spaniard is back on track to make it. But Jimenez admitted to feeling the pressure at Le Golf National when, two clear on the final fairway, he dumped his next shot in the lake and double bogeyed.
Compatriot Alejandro Canizares, whose father Jose-Maria Canizares was a Ryder Cup hero at the Belfry in 1989, had a 20-foot chance to grab the title, but by missing the pair went into sudden death with Italian Francesco Molinari. And a par 4 at the first extra hole -- the dreaded 18th again proved good enough to make Jimenez the oldest-ever winner of continental Europe's oldest title.
He leaps from 17th in the points race to sixth, while Molinari is now eighth. Nine players qualify automatically at the end of next month.
"It feels great," stated Jimenez, who since turning 40 in 2004 has added 10 European Tour wins to the seven he had before. "I keep fighting with all of the young people here and I'm very proud to be part of history."
The Spaniard, who beat Lee Westwood in Dubai in February, added: "Making the Ryder Cup again would mean a lot and I just hope that I can be. But I felt a little pressure on the 18th. We are human and I feel like I lost my rhythm. This is my 22nd year on Tour and sometimes you try to push and get the ball in the hole. Sometimes it's very difficult -- we are not machines."
England's Simon Dyson and Spain's Alvaro Quiros are the pair to drop out of the top nine in the cup standings because of the moves made by Jimenez and Molinari, who could yet be involved in a fight with his older brother Edoardo for a spot on Colin Montgomerie's team.
Young Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is even closer to securing his debut, meanwhile, after finishing fourth. The 21-year-old would also have been in the shootout if he had holed a 12-foot birdie opportunity on the last.
"I gave it a good go. I hit the last putt exactly where I wanted, but it didn't come down,” he said. "I can take a lot from this. I'm hitting it great and giving myself plenty of chances. I can't wait for the Open."