Michael Holt won the biggest title of his career so far by beating John Higgins 4-3 in the final of Euro Players Tour Championship event six in Prague.
The World No 42 from Nottingham, a pro for 14 years, ended a run of 13 consecutive victories for Higgins, who returned to competitive snooker in style last week by winning EPTC5 in Germany.
Holt, age 32, became the 12th different winner in 12 events on the PTC series and leapt from 96th place on the Order of Merit into the top 24, thereby qualifying for the Grand Finals in March. He goes home with 10,000 Euros and is 2,000 ranking points better off.
Holt won the first two frames with a top break of 64 and made 66 in the third before running out of position and missing a tricky red. Higgins hit back to win it on the last black, then compiled a run of 100 for 2-2.
Three-times World Champion Higgins added a scrappy third frame to take the lead, but Holt showed his mettle by dominating the last two frames without conceding a point, knocking in 74 and 65.
“I’ve always said that I can play the game and I’m good enough to win things. In fact I stopped saying it because people thought I was lying,” said Holt, who has never been beyond the quarter-finals of a full ranking event. “I just needed some confidence and to be able to handle the situation when it mattered.
“I did that today – I didn’t get nervous or twitch a ball in the final, I felt great. I couldn’t have had a tougher draw as I had to beat Stephen Maguire, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy to get to the final. It’s definitely the best moment of my career and hopefully I can kick on now and get up the rankings.”
Holt dedicated victory to his dad Mick, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered two months ago. “He’s very poorly and it’s going to take him a long time to get better,” said Holt. “He’ll dig in like I did today. I can’t wait to take the trophy home and show it to him.”
Murphy finished top of the Order of Merit despite losing 4-3 in the semi-finals to Holt, from 3-1 up.
The full list of the 24 qualifiers for the PTC Grand Finals will be announced shortly.