The 147 came in the first frame of Ford's third round match against Matthew Stevens at the Princess Hotel in Sofia. He went on to win 4-1 to reach the last 16.
The break was worth a £2,500 bonus from the rolling prize for PTC events for the World No 25 from Leicester (providing it is not equalled).
He potted 15 reds with blacks and all the colours to delight the Bulgarian crowd in the main arena, and the break was covered live by Eurosport.
It's the 92nd official maximum in snooker history and fourth of the season after one each from Stuart Bingham, Ken Doherty and John Higgins. Ford had made one previous 147, at the 2007 Grand Prix during a match against Steve Davis, having discharged himself from hospital just a few hours earlier after suffering from gastroenteritis.
World No 1 Judd Trump lost just three frames in his three matches, finishing with a 4-2 defeat of Aditya Mehta with a top break of 115.
And Trump's hopes of hanging on to the top spot in the rankings received a boost as his flat-mate Jack Lisowski edged out World No 2 Mark Selby 4-3. Selby opened with a 131 and later led 3-1, but Lisowski got back to level then came from 49-0 down to win the decider by clearing from last red to pink.
Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh made a 104 in a 4-1 defeat of Alan McManus while Mark Davis beat Paul Davison 4-2 despite a 140 from his opponent.
Andrew Higginson made a 106 in the last frame to beat amateur Andrew Norman 4-3 while Scotland's Anthony McGill scored a superb 4-0 win over Barry Hawkins with a top run of 84.
In the last match to finish on Friday evening, Dave Harold edged out Kurt Maflin 4-3, coming from 56-3 down to win the decider on the final pink.
Last 16, top half of draw:
Jack Lisowski v Tom Ford
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Mark Davis
Dave Harold v Judd Trump
Andrew Higginson v Anthony McGill
Ball by ball scoring and results from tournaments