Simon Dyson's dream of playing in the Ryder Cup is still alive with only two days of the year-long marathon to go.
"If I play the best 36 holes of my life, I'll play in the best tournament of my life," said the 32-year-old after a second-round 70 in the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship kept him tied for seventh place.
However, it might not be enough, even if he does go crazy and grab the victory he needs to have a chance of a Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in just over a month.
Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez will keep Dyson off the team if he finishes in the top nine on Sunday -- and after a 68 he is also 6 under par at halfway, three behind co-leaders David Lynn, Gary Boyd and Julien Guerrier.
That trio -- Boyd and Guerrier are both European Tour rookies -- took over at the top from Richard Finch, but inevitably it is the battle for the two remaining guaranteed Ryder Cup spots and three wild cards on Colin Montgomerie's team that is dominating the week.
It is a battle being conducted on two fronts, and with Montgomerie praising Padraig Harrington as he challenged Tiger Woods for the lead at The Barclays in America on Friday, it seems almost certain now that the Irishman will be handed one of the captain's picks.
Paul Casey, who had a second successive 69 at The Barclays – the first of the FedExCup playoffs -- and Luke Donald are favorites for the others, and that would mean Edoardo Molinari and Justin Rose -- 21st and 22nd in the world -- being the unfortunate two to miss out.
Dyson, though, has thoughts now only on what he faces. With big-hitting Alvaro Quiros, also on a win-or-bust mission, only just squeezing through the cut on 1 under par, Dyson looks like the only threat to Jimenez and Peter Hanson. Sweden’s Hanson won last week's Czech Open to move into eighth place on the points table and since he is also 6 under at halfway – so are Molinari and his brother Francesco -- it is shaping up to be to a straight battle between Dyson and Jimenez.
Dyson felt unlucky that a squall came while he was on the 320-yard 14th -- "the easiest hole on the course became a tough one," he said -- but he had earlier made putts of 40 and 20 feet to save par at the second and fourth.
"I struggled with distance with my irons, but I missed only one fairway and my putting held my score together for the first few holes,” he said. "I know what I've got to do and I'll just give it a go. If I'm three behind even with nine holes to go, I still fancy my chances."
Playing partner Hanson birdied the last three holes for his second successive 69, and a 43rd-place finish or better for him puts him on the team regardless of what anybody else does.
Jimenez had hopes of something special when he birdied three of the first four, but it was only when he birdied the par-5 last -- like Dyson -- that he moved to 4 under for the day.
Ahead of them, Montgomerie missed the cut when a 76 dropped him to 3 over. He would rather be playing, but he now intends to watch the final rounds from outside the ropes as the various issues come to their climax. Montgomerie will also be keeping a close eye on events across the Atlantic, though.
"Padraig, when his back's to the wall, has done awfully well in the past," Montgomerie said. "So all credit to him for showing some form when he has to.
"I was very interested in the way he reacted to taking 6 at the last (at the PGA Championship two weeks ago) to miss the cut by one. Within five minutes of signing his card, he was on the range,” he added. "That says a lot about what he wants to do and wants to achieve. That says a lot."
Such strong words lengthen the odds on Edoardo Molinari being a pick, but the 29-year-old, whose brother made certain of his place when Ross McGowan pulled out injured, said with a smile: "I promise we won't lose a point!"