Marco Fu is the 2016 Scottish Open champion after producing a magnificent turnaround from 4-1 down to beat John Higgins 9-4 in the Final at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Sunday.
The Hong Kong cueist won eight frames on the spin to secure the third ranking title of his career, a cheque for £70,000 and the brand new Stephen Hendry trophy – presented by the seven-time world champion, himself.
Fu was utterly powerless in the opening frame, as a decent opening red paved the way for Higgins to draw first blood in the showpiece of the third leg of the Home Nations Series with a stunning total clearance of 126.
The Scotsman, who was chasing a 29th ranking event title that would move him outright second on the all-time list, then pounced on a missed black from Fu with a 101 clearance, before a run of 100 gave him a third consecutive century and a 3-0 lead.
However, his opponent responded in style with 106 – his 11th century of the week – to get himself on the scoreboard and make it four tons in four frames before the interval.
A contribution of 78 saw Higgins regain his three-frame cushion and he looked on course for 5-1 on 28 in the next, but knocked in a red when potting the black and Fu hit back with runs of 44 and 52 to narrow the deficit.
The world number 14 then punished a rare safety error by the four-time world champion, as he cleared to the pink to move to within a frame of Higgins, before a run of 54 helped him level things up at the end of the session.
An electric reception welcomed the players into the arena for the evening and Fu settled the quicker – taking a lengthy ninth frame to complete the turnaround and lead for the first time, while a break of 89 in the next gave him breathing space at 6-4 in front.
The 38-year-old, whose maiden ranking title came at the Grand Prix in Aberdeen in 2007, looked like he had spurned a great opportunity for 7-4 when he missed frame ball in the 11th.
Although, Higgins failed to capitalise as an under-hit positional shot from the pink resulted in him missing the black with the rest, allowing Fu to sink it from distance.
The Hong Kong man won the final tournament of 2015 at the European Tour’s Gibraltar Open, and he repeated the feat as he runs of 59 and 60 helped him claim the final two frames – making it eight on the bounce – to secure victory.
“I still can’t believe it. In a very short spell of the match, I dragged John down to my standard a little bit!” Fu laughed. “I think the three frames from 4-1 down to 4-4 were crucial – I felt over the moon.
“(At 8-4 up) I was feeling the pressure and saw the way that John came back against Judd (Trump) in the semi-finals, so I just wanted to close out the match as soon as possible.
“I was struggling in the first half of the season and I was feeling terrible going into the UK Championship,” added Fu, who reached the semi-finals in York, “but, somehow, have found some form and won 15 of my last 16 matches.
“It’s very special and probably the best win of my career.”
Higgins observed: “I played great at the start. At 4-1 in front, I was looking good but, from then on, Marco froze me out and played fantastic. He’s one of the nicest guys on the tour and he deserves it.
“The atmosphere was electric tonight and I was gutted that I couldn’t make it a great night.”