John Higgins moved within two career 147 breaks of snooker GOAT Ronnie O’Sullivan as he became the oldest player in history to compile a maximum at the Championship League on Saturday.
The four-time world champion compiled the stunning break in the opening frame of his 3-2 win over Fan Zhengyi in the semi-finals of Group 5 at the invitational tournament before defeating Ricky Walden in the final to advance to the winners’ group next month.
Fan responded with 68 and 139 to leave Higgins 2-1, but the in-form Scotsman finished with 76 and 66 to progress before hitting back from 2-0 down to defeat Walden in the final.
A 122 break gave Walden the second frame, but Higgins made 69 in the third with his opponent failing to register a point in the closing two frames.
“I felt good throughout the whole break and fancied getting it from the get go,” said Higgins about his latest maximum that saw him produce a brilliant shot to land on black from pink in baulk. “It’s always a good feeling when that happens.
“I’ve done well in this event before and it’s been good practice to get ready for the Welsh Open and hopefully the Players’ Championship. That was the aim coming down here – to get some match practice.”
Higgins sets the new record for the oldest player to make a maximum at the age of 48 years, eight months and 19 days with the 198 147 of all time.
He overtakes fellow ‘Class of 92’ icon Mark Williams, who had held the record since he made the 193rd at the age of 47 years and 270 days against Neil Robertson at the 2022 English Open in December 2022.
O’Sullivan continues to hold the all-time maximum record break with 15 147s, but Higgins is only two off the pace with fellow Scottish great Stephen Hendry still third on 11.
Higgins begins his quest for a record-extending sixth Welsh Open title against Mohamed Ibrahim in Llandudno on Monday.
“I played some good stuff earlier on in the week, but felt like I was beginning to wilt in the last day, he said. “It’s been a long six days, so I’m delighted to come through this group.
“I got very lucky at the end against Ricky. I got some big pieces of luck which is what you need in a best of five.”
Walden had earlier produced a 133 in a 3-1 semi-final win over Barry Hawkins, who had topped the section with four wins from six matches with Higgins, Fan and Walden joining him in the last four.
Walden, Kyren Wilson, Fan and Hawkins return for Group 6 as Dave Gilbert and Joe Perry drop out as Ali Carter, Hossein Vafaei and Jack Lisowski join the action on Monday 26 February.
The champion from each group qualifies for the winners’ group on March 1 and 2, with the other top four players continuing to Group 6 as the bottom two players are eliminated at the end of each group.
The winner of the Championship League also earns a spot in the Champion of Champions later this year.