Hawkins edged out in tight final
Hawkins edged out in tight final

John Higgins won the Welsh Open for the fifth time as defeated Kent’s Barry Hawkins 9-7 in an enthralling encounter in Cardiff.

The Wizard of Wishaw has now won this event more than anyone else and takes his tally of ranking crowns to 30 which pulls him to within two of Ronnie O’Sullivan and six behind Stephen Hendry on the all-time list.

Higgins and O’Sullivan had been level on four Welsh titles each but the Scot is now out on his own, having defeated the Rocket 5-1 in this year’s quarter-finals.

In a high-quality final on Sunday, Higgins rattled in breaks of 141 and 138, while Hawkins, from Ditton near Maidstone, responded with a 130, as the afternoon session ended with the score tied at 4-4.

When play resumed Higgins took the first two frames but back-to-back tons from Hawkins, 103 and 138, levelled matters again.

A misjudged plant from Hawkins and a 68 from Higgins took frame 13 and the four-time world champion promptly took an 8-6 lead before Hawkins pulled one back.

But 42-year-old Higgins, who won this event in 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2015, used all his experience in the 47th ranking final of his career to get over the line.

The Scot told the BBC: “It feels great. It was one of the most enjoyable finals I’ve ever played in, a great standard.

“At 6-6 I was 50 behind and managed to take it so that was a big frame. If Barry had won I’d have had no complaints.”