O’Brien finished runner-up in Group F behind Ben Woollaston and both players are through to next week’s second phase.
In a tense finish to the group in Milton Keynes, four players were tied on four wins apiece going into the seventh and final round of matches. O’Brien scored a 2-0 win over Igor Figueiredo to secure second place, while Woollaston scrapped out a 2-1 win over Robbie McGuigan to take top spot.
Dublin’s O’Brien scored heavily throughout the day, making four centuries and a crucial 88 in the last frame against Brazil’s top player Figueiredo.
But there was regret for world number 114 O’Brien as he came so close to the second 147 of his career during his match against Noppon Saengkham, but missed the pink to a centre pocket on 134.
Age 49, he would have comfortably beaten the record for the oldest player to make a maximum, held by John Higgins who is 45.
“That was a blow because it would have been lovely to make a maximum,” said the former British Open champion. “Not that many players have had more than one.
“I lost two of my first three matches so my lunch didn’t taste too good. But beating Noppon gave me a boost and I played well in my last three matches, I knew I had to win all of them. I’m delighted to get through.
“I’ve had a very poor season, I’ve been out of the winning habit. I’d won five matches all season and then won five today, plus I haven’t had a century all season and I’ve had four today. I needed confidence and more matches to get sharper ahead of the World qualifiers.
“It would mean everything to get to the Crucible again. I’ve had the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat.”
BetVictor Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown could have qualified for the Cazoo Tour Championship with a deep run in this event, but he finished fifth in the table, ending his hopes.
The action continues on Friday from 10am with Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden among the players in Group D. The first phase concludes on March 16th.
Fans around the world can watch the event on the Matchroom.Live website – for details click here.
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