Barry Hawkins beat Mark Williams 3-0 to win Group Four of the Championship League in Coventry on Thursday.
The 37 year-old was in strong form throughout the two-day event, topping the initial league phase with five wins from his six round-robin encounters to comfortably move into the knockout phase.
In the last four, Hawkins came from 2-0 down to overcome perennial bridesmaid Ryan Day in a tight decider before a comprehensive whitewash of Welshman Williams in the final.
Hawkins, who pocketed £6,400, moves into the Winners’ Group in March alongside David Gilbert, Anthony McGill, and Mark Davis – with three more qualification groups still to take place.
It represents good preparation for the ‘Hawk’ with the upcoming prestigious Masters invitational on the horizon.
Hawkins will be hoping to put the misery of his humiliating 10-1 defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final at Alexandra Palace last year behind him.
“I didn’t know what to expect and it was a bit of a scrappy today but it was really about practicing and getting ready for The Masters after a few weeks off over Christmas,” Hawkins told Championship League Snooker.
“I did play some good matches but it was a matter of just playing this week and getting cueing again.”
“I am over the moon to get into the Winners’ Group where you can play for some good money and there is the carrot dangling at the end. If you can get into the Champion of Champions then that would be great.”
Meanwhile, Williams, Day, other beaten semi-finalist Shaun Murphy, and fifth place Kyren Wilson will have another chance during Group Five next month, as Neil Robertson and Mark Allen were eliminated from the competition for finishing in the bottom two positions of the standings.
For Day, the 36 year-old from Wales has now reached all four knockout phases of the Championship League, including two finals, without being able to leap that last hurdle and book his spot in the Winners’ Group.
Day’s tenure is proving rather lucrative, though, with £15,600 now to his name since the series began at the start of the year.