Snooker legend John Higgins made a mercurial start to his defence of the British Open with a maximum 147 break in his very first frame this afternoon.
Higgins technically came into the tournament as defending champion having triumphed when it was last staged in Brighton back in 2004, and 17 years and a change of venue later, the 46-year-old managed to pick up where he left off.
The four-time world champion made the perfect opening in his first round match against Alexander Ursenbacher in Leicester by notching the 12th maximum break of his career, which takes him clear of fellow Scotsman Stephen Hendry and into second place on the all-time list.
Now only Ronnie O’Sullivan is ahead of the player dubbed ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’, with the Englishman having racked up 15 maximums in his own glittering career.
It also means a remarkable 21 years have passed between Higgins’ maiden 147 and his latest one, with his first coming when representing Scotland in the Nations Cup back in 2000.
Higgins followed up the feat with further breaks of 57 and 78 to take the best of five frames clash 3-1 and comfortably progress to the second round.
Prior to this event, he admitted to undergoing a strict regime over the summer of months in an attempt to lose excess weight and prolong his career, and has shed two stone courtesy of regular spinning classes and a modified diet.
“I’m still trying to keep up with the fitness and still trying to be a bit healthier,” he admitted.
“I was taken aback at the World Championship, so it was just a case of trying to eat a bit better over the last couple of months, trying to lose a bit of weight, take it into the new season and see if it does me any good.”
And his work clearly appears to have paid off, with Judd Trump amongst a number of his fellow professionals to promptly offer his congratulations via social media.
“First poke. Well done John Higgins,” wrote the current world number one.
And Higgins, a four time world champion, still harbours ambitions of toppling another of Hendry’s personal records.
He currently has 31 career ranking titles to his name, with only his countryman (36) and O’Sullivan (37) again boasting more.
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