John Higgins has become the first player to win the Welsh Open on five occasions after he beat Barry Hawkins in an enthralling final in Cardiff.
The 42-year-old Scotsman lifted the Ray Reardon Trophy and a cheque for £70,000 after defeating the Englishman 9-7 on Sunday night.
Higgins previously won the Welsh Open in 2000, 2010, 2011, and 2015 and now has won the event for a record fifth time after coming out on top in a close encounter against the world number eight.
Victory also means Higgins now joins the club of players who have won 30 ranking events in their career – joining just two others – Ronnie O’Sullivan (32) and record holder Stephen Hendry who won 36 ranking titles.
Despite playing the best snooker in the opening exchanges, Higgins came away from the opening session level at 4-4 as Hawkins won a couple of frames that Higgins could have and probably should have won.
Higgins, who has won the World Championship four times, took the lead for the first time when he won the first frame of the evening session to go 5-4 ahead.
He then won the tenth frame to go two frames clear before Hawkins produced a brilliant fightback as breaks of 103 and then a superb 138 placed him back level at 6-6.
However, the next two frames proved ultimately decisive as Higgins came back from behind in both frames to pull away again.
Frame 13 saw Higgins clinch the frame with a run off 66 after Hawkins let slip of a 40 point lead.
And the next frame saw Higgins crucially go 8-6 in front when Hawkins missed a crucial final pink which he needed to win the frame. Despite missing one chance, Higgins eventually potted the pink to go two frames clear.
A run of 82 kept Hawkins’ chances of winning his fourth ranking title alive but a safety error early in frame 17 allowed Higgins a golden opportunity to win the title – and he duly took it with a run of 64 followed by two long reds.
Higgins’ win also meant he will be invited to play in this year’s Champion of Champions event in Coventry.
John Higgins Route to Welsh Open Glory
R1 – beat Matthew Selt 4-2
R2 – beat Stephen Maguire 4-1
R3 – beat Sam Craigie 4-0
R4 – beat Nigel Bond 4-0
Quarter-Final – beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-1
Semi-Final – beat Gary Wilson 6-2
Final – beat Barry Hawkins 9-7