Barry Hawkins won the Riga Open on Sunday after a 4-1 victory over fellow Englishman Tom Ford in Latvia.
Hawkins didn’t enter the Australian Open last month to better prepare for the long new season ahead, and that decision paid dividends as he romped to his maiden European Tour title.
The 36 year-old did of course collect the Players Championship trophy in 2014 but this marks the first occasion that he has emerged victorious in one of the satellite events.
The ‘Hawk’ was rarely troubled as well, as he emerged through his seven ties to the loss of only seven frames.
Alan McManus gave him the most trouble in the quarter-finals, but even then Hawkins managed to advance with a frame to spare.
In the semi-final he knocked in a 120 en route to a 4-1 victory over Graeme Dott before repeating the feat against Ford in the final – helped by breaks of 65, 57 and 62.
Hawkins didn’t have a particularly good last season for the most part, suffering a confidence shattering 6-5 loss to Nigel Bond in the UK Championship when he had earlier boasted a 5-0 lead.
However, he finished the campaign strongly by reaching the quarter-finals of the China Open before making it successive last four appearances at the World Championship in May.
Hawkins, very much like the player who went on to win at the Crucible, Stuart Bingham, has produced his best snooker in the latter stages of his career and there’s plenty of time for more success in the future.
An added bonus of his triumph in eastern Europe at the weekend is the invitation he will now receive to the lucrative Champion of Champions later in the year.
For Ford it was a welcome return to the business end of a tournament for a man who has struggled for much of the last couple of campaigns.
The 31 year-old fell short of claiming his third PTC title but will take solace in the fact that his form has obviously improved, with much of the rest of the season now to look forward to.
By all accounts the Riga Open was another successful tournament with sizable crowds on the final day.
Next on the European Tour is arguably the best minor-ranking event of them all – the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth – but before that the Shanghai Masters qualifiers take place in Barnsley this week.