John Higgins won his 29th ranking title, putting him ahead of Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, by beating Anthony McGill 5-1 in an all-Scottish clash at the Indian Open final in Vishakhapatnam.
Higgins won his first ranking title back in 1994 and, 23 years later, has finally overtaken the tally of his boyhood idol Davis, as well as fellow legend O’Sullivan. Stephen Hendry remains well out in front with 36 but Higgins remains a regular tournament winner at the age of 42, and could yet catch him.
He moves up from third to second in the world rankings thanks to the top prize of £50,000 at the first event staged in Vishakhapatnam on India’s east coast.
Higgins, whose 28th ranking title came at the 2015 International Championship, won seven matches in this event, albeit without facing a player ranked among the top 16.
The final was a case of master beating apprentice as Higgins outplayed his fellow Glaswegian and practice partner, who had been defending the title. McGill, 26, missed out on his third ranking title but still picked up £25,000 and is up to 18th in the world.
Higgins won the first two scrappy frames with a top break of 42 then McGill made a 49 in the third to pull one back.
A run of 71 from four-time World Champion Higgins, the highest break of the final, put him 3-1 up at the interval, and he made a 49 in frame five before sealing it on the colours. And he dominated the next with runs of 37 and 34 to secure the title.
“It was a scrappy final, I was lucky that Anthony was nowhere near his best,” said Higgins. “I didn’t play great but I made things difficult for him.
“It’s a great feeling to win a tournament because you don’t know when your next one is going to come. I’ve had some tough games this week and it’s a short format so there’s a lot of pressure when you are favourite.
“Steve and Ronnie have both won more invitation events than me, and I’m sure Ronnie will win more ranking events. But just to go above Steve, who was my hero growing up, is a feather in the cap for me. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“Anthony has got his head screwed on right and he’s a hard worker. He hasn’t changed at all since he was a boy, he’s a lovely guy. He’ll win a lot more titles.
“I can’t enjoy this one tonight because I’m going straight on the Yushan World Open so I don’t want to get there with a sore head! I’ll celebrate when I get back from China.”
McGill said: “I had a few chances that I could have done more with, but John is just a better player, it’s as simple as that. I was low in confidence coming here but I found some form this week, it just wasn’t there today. You need to play a lot better than that against guys like John.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, McGill edged out Mark King 4-3 while Higgins scored a 4-2 win over China’s 19-year-old Xu Si, putting an end to the teenage rookie’s best run in a ranking event.
Indian Open winners
2013 Ding Junhui
2015 Michael White
2016 Anthony McGill
2017 John Higgins