For John Higgins to win the first tournament after his suspension is a remarkable feat.
He was nervous, he was rusty, he was unsure of the reception he would receive. However, tonight he beat Shaun Murphy 4-2 to win the fifth event of the European Players Tour Championship in Hamm and provide the PTC series with its eleventh different winner from the twelve tournaments contested so far.
Higgins didn’t pick up his cue from losing to Steve Davis in the second round of the World Championship last season to shortly after learning that he would be returning to the circuit despite the News of the World scandal that cast doubt on his entire professional career.
The 35 year-old three times world champion went to Germany with his wife, Denise, and found players to be largely welcoming.
I’m sure John felt he had a point to prove and to win the title says a lot about his own mental strength. The strength of his game was never in dispute.
The whole experience seems to have made him even tougher than before. There was no better way to answer the doubters and he knew that. As so often before, he rose to the occasion.
In normal circumstances winning an EPTC title would not register high on the list of achievements for a player as steeped in silverware as Higgins.
But the manner in which this trophy was won much surely make it one of the most satisfying of his career.