Midlander John Bickerton rescued his European Tour career in the best possible fashion yesterday, winning his first title at the 287th attempt.
The 35- year- old from Droitwich Spa, five times a runner-up, took the Abama Canaries Open in Tenerife by five strokes from left-hander Stuart Little and South African Michael Kirk.
Bickerton went into the week 118th on the Order of Merit and needing a top-five finish to remove any worries about losing his card and being forced back to the qualifying school.
But, after missing the halfway cut in six of his last nine starts, the Midlands golfer lifted the £51,104 first prize with a closing 68 and tenunderpar total of 274.
"Finally," he sighed afterwards. "It feels fantastic, awesome. It's been a long time coming and I've been very worried about my place on tour.
"It's your career, your future lies on this game and a few quid makes such a difference. I moved down five spots last week, but it made me more determined and it's nice to pull it off under pressure."
Little was already safe on tour for next season, but second place represented his best finish of his career, while Kirk is now certain to graduate to the main circuit from the "second division" Challenge Tour.
Joint fourth were Scot Marc Warren, Swede Johan Axgren and, in his 500th tour event, Sheffield's Mark Roe.
For Roe, it also means he saves his card. He was 117th on the money list prior to the tournament and after his best finish for four years he said: "That was hard work. It's pleasant on reflection, but not when you are doing it."
Ahead by one overnight, Bickerton took himself clear by playing the first ten holes in three-under and after three-putting the short 12th hole he came straight back with a pitch to two feet.
The former England boy and youth international drove into the trees at the 413-yard 15th and had to chop out, but he saved par with an eight-foot putt and could breathe more easily.
Bickerton parred his way in and could enjoy the walk down the last knowing that even with a quadruple bogey he would win.
Tettenhall's Peter Baker just missed out on the top ten on one-under after a disappointing final round 74, his worst of the week, to follow Saturday's 72.
Birmingham's Sam Walker, who had begun the competition with a first-round 80, finished one-over after a levelpar 71 but Lichfield's Robert Rock paid the price for a horror third-round 82 as he ended second-last. He did, however, bounce back from Saturday's disaster with a 71.
Belbroughton's Matthew Morris, though, suffered a nightmare finale. He had been poised for a decent payday after beginning the day four-over but a 20-over round of 91 left him well adrift at the bottom of the field.
Who stays on tour and who has to return to the qualifying school will be decided at the Majorca Classic on October 20-23. First comes this week's Madrid Open - and Seve Ballesteros' return to golf after almost two years out.
The event takes place at Club de Campo, the course on which Ballesteros had the last of his record 50 victories on the circuit ten years ago.