John Higgins (snooker player)

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John Higgins
John Higgins at Snooker German Masters (DerHexer) 2013-01-30 06.jpg
Born(1975-05-18) 18 May 1975 (age 38)
Wishaw, Scotland
Sport country Scotland
NicknameThe Wizard of Wishaw
Highest ranking1 (3 years 9 months)
Current ranking10 (as of 3 February 2014)
Career winningsGB£ 5.733.831[1]
Highest break147 (7 times[2])
Century breaks530 [3]
Tournament wins
World Champion1998, 2007, 2009, 2011
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John Higgins
John Higgins at Snooker German Masters (DerHexer) 2013-01-30 06.jpg
Born(1975-05-18) 18 May 1975 (age 38)
Wishaw, Scotland
Sport country Scotland
NicknameThe Wizard of Wishaw
Highest ranking1 (3 years 9 months)
Current ranking10 (as of 3 February 2014)
Career winningsGB£ 5.733.831[1]
Highest break147 (7 times[2])
Century breaks530 [3]
Tournament wins
World Champion1998, 2007, 2009, 2011

John Higgins, MBE (born 18 May 1975) is a Scottish professional snooker player from Wishaw. He turned professional in 1992, and is one of the most successful players in the modern history of the sport.

Higgins's career accomplishments include winning four World Championship titles (1998, 2007, 2009, and 2011), three UK Championship titles (1998, 2000, and 2010), and two Masters titles (1999 and 2006). In terms of world titles in the modern era, he is fifth behind Stephen Hendry (7), Steve Davis (6), Ray Reardon (6) and Ronnie O'Sullivan (5). He is joint third with O'Sullivan on the list of players to have won the most ranking titles (25). For 16 consecutive full seasons from 1996/1997 to 2011/2012, he never fell below 6th in the world rankings, and has been world number 1 on four occasions.[4] His 530 competitive century breaks, including seven maximum 147 breaks, place him third behind Hendry and O'Sullivan in terms of both century breaks and maximum breaks in professional tournament play.[5]

In 2010, an investigation into a sting operation by the News of the World tabloid newspaper found that Higgins had failed to report, and had given the impression of agreeing with, an invitation to breach the sport's betting rules. The WPBSA banned him from the sport for six months and fined him £75,000. He returned to professional competition midway through the 2010/2011 season.

Since winning his fourth world title in 2011, Higgins has experienced a notable slump in form and has slipped to 12th place in the world rankings.


Early years[edit]

Higgins turned professional in 1992 and reached the quarter-finals of the British Open during his first season on the professional tour. He rose to prominence in the 1994/1995 season when, at the age of 19, he won his first ranking tournament at the Grand Prix, defeating Dave Harold 9–6 in the final.[6] He went on to win two more ranking titles at the British Open[7] and International Open,[8] making him the first teenager to win three ranking events in one season, and he also reached the finals of the Welsh Open and the Masters. By the end of the season, he had moved from 51st to 11th in the world rankings. By the end of the following season, assisted by two more ranking titles and another ranking final, he had moved up to 2nd in the world.

In the UK Championship final in 1996, he recovered from 4–8 down against Stephen Hendry to lead 9–8, only to lose 9–10.[9]

In 1998, Higgins won his first World Championship, beating Jason Ferguson, Anthony Hamilton, John Parrott and Ronnie O'Sullivan, before overcoming defending champion Ken Doherty 18–12 in the final.[10] He made a then-record 14 centuries in the tournament (an achievement that was later eclipsed by Hendry, who made 16 centuries in the 2002 World Championship). After winning the world title, Higgins became world number 1 for the first time in his career, ending Stephen Hendry's eight-year tenure in the top spot.[11]

After the first world title[edit]

During the 1998/99 season, Higgins won the UK Championship[12] and Masters[13] with 10–6 and 10–8 defeats of Matthew Stevens and Ken Doherty, respectively, to become only the third player after Davis and Hendry to hold the World, UK and Masters titles simultaneously (Mark Williams later joined this elite group). In addition, he is one of just five players to have claimed both the World and UK Championship in the same calendar year (1998); the others are Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Higgins remained as World no. 1 for two years,[14] when Mark Williams replaced him at the top of the rankings at the close of the 1999/00 season.[15] Higgins and Williams met in the Grand Prix final in 1999, where Higgins came from 2–6 down to claim a 9–8 victory;[16] the World Championship semi-final in 2000, where Higgins was defeated 15–17 after surrendering a 14–10 advantage in the final session;[17] and the UK Championship final in 2000 – Higgins winning by a margin of 10–4 to earn his second UK title.[18][19]

He reached the World Championship final in 2001, but lost 14–18 to Ronnie O'Sullivan.[20][21] At the beginning of the 2001/02 season, Higgins became the first player to win the opening three tournaments of a season: the Champions Cup,[22] Scottish Masters[23] (both invitational events), and the British Open.[24] Higgins then failed to win a major title until his fourth British Open triumph in 2004.[25]

In the Grand Prix final in 2005, Higgins beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 9–2.[26][27] In doing so, he became the first player to record four consecutive centuries in a ranking tournament, with breaks of 103, 104, 138 and 128 in frames 7 to 10. Higgins scored 494 points without reply, which was then a record (Ding Junhui managed 495 points against Stephen Hendry in the Premier League in 2007).[28] Higgins and O'Sullivan also contested the Masters finals in 2005 and 2006. Higgins was beaten 3–10 in 2005.[29][30] In 2006, he lost the first three frames, but won the next five to establish a lead after the first session. O'Sullivan levelled in the evening, and the match went to a deciding frame. On a 60 break, O'Sullivan missed a red to a baulk pocket, and Higgins made a clearance of 64 to win 10–9 to claim the title for the second time.[31][32]

Second and third world titles[edit]

John Higgins with the World Championship trophy in 2007

In the World Championship in 2007, Higgins beat Michael Holt, Fergal O'Brien, Ronnie O'Sullivan, and Stephen Maguire en route to the final. His break of 122 in the 29th frame of his semi-final against Maguire, on recovering from a deficit of 10–14 in the final session to prevail 17–15,[33] was the 1,000th century to be made at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield since the World Championship was first staged there in 1977. In the final, Higgins held a 12–4 advantage over Mark Selby overnight, but Selby reduced his arrears to a single frame on day two. However, at 14–13, Higgins rediscovered his form to win four consecutive frames to clinch the match 18–13[34][35] to secure his second World title at 12:54 a.m., the latest finish to a World final (equalled when Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott in 2010); and nine years after his first title – the longest time span between successes since Alex Higgins (1972, 1982), and the longest at The Crucible. He regained World no. 1 status.[36]

As World Champion, Higgins reached the quarter-final stages in only the Welsh[37] and China Open[38] tournaments. He helped to establish, and actively promoted, the World Series of Snooker[39][40] – a tour intended to bring snooker to new venues outside the traditional United Kingdom and recently developed Far East markets. He won the inaugural event in St. Helier in June 2008, beating Mark Selby 6–3 in the final. Higgins also devised a new players’ union with his manager Pat Mooney, called The Snooker Players Association. He won the Grand Prix for the fourth time in 2008,[41] beating Ryan Day 9–7 in the final in Glasgow – his first ranking tournament win on home soil.[42]

In the World Championship in 2009, Higgins beat Michael Holt 10–5 in round one. His second-round and quarter-final matches both went the full distance of 25 frames, with Higgins overcoming 10–12 and 11–12 deficits against Jamie Cope[43] and Mark Selby,[44] respectively, to win 13–12. He established a 13–3 lead in the semi-final against Mark Allen and progressed 17–13 – withstanding a comeback by the Northern Irishman.[45] Higgins recorded an 18–9 victory over Shaun Murphy in the final[46][47] to become the ninth player to win the World title three or more times after Joe Davis, Fred Davis, John Pulman, John Spencer, Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan. He joined Steve Davis, Hendry and O'Sullivan as the only players to have lifted the trophy three or more times at The Crucible. At two weeks before his 34th birthday, Higgins became the oldest player to triumph since Dennis Taylor in 1985, who was 36 years of age.

In the 2009/10 season, as reigning World Champion, he lost 5–6 on the black ball to Neil Robertson in the semi-final of the Grand Prix;[48][49] and 8–10 to Ding Junhui in the final of the UK Championship,[50][51] after surviving a comeback by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-final when leading 8–2, to advance 9–8 the previous evening. he also defeated Neil Robertson 9–8 during the tournament[52] He captured the Welsh Open title by defeating Allister Carter 9–4 in the final,[53][54] and ended the season as World no. 1 despite an 11–13 loss to Steve Davis in round two of the World Championship.[55][56]

Match-fixing allegations and fourth world title[edit]


On 2 May 2010, Higgins and his manager, Pat Mooney, a World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) board member, were the subject of match-fixing allegations after being filmed in a sting operation conducted by the now disgraced News of the World newspaper.[57][58][59] An undercover News of the World team, led by Mazher Mahmood, posing as promoters, met Higgins and his manager on 30 April, in a hotel room in Kiev under the pretence of organising a series of events linked to the World Series of Snooker.[58] The newspaper alleged that Higgins and Mooney had agreed to lose four frames in four separate tournaments in exchange for a €300,000 total payment, and further discussed the mechanics of how to fix a frame, which tournaments and opponents to choose, and how to transfer the money to Higgins.[58] Higgins was immediately suspended from the game and Mooney resigned from his position on the WPBSA board.[60][61] Higgins issued a statement on the same day denying he had ever been involved in match-fixing, and explained that he decided to "play along" out of fear for his safety, suspecting the involvement of the Russian Mafia.[62]

A full investigation was conducted into the allegations by David Douglas – a former Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent, and head of the WPBSA's disciplinary committee. The independent tribunal that followed on 7–8 September, hosted by Sports Resolutions (UK) and chaired by Ian Mill QC, concurred that the WPBSA was right to conclude that Higgins had truthfully accounted for his words and actions and to withdraw the more serious charges of match-fixing, but found him guilty of 'giving the impression' he would breach betting rules, and of failing to report the approach made by the News of the World. Higgins received a six-month ban, backdated to the start of his suspension period, and was fined £75,000.[63]

Return to snooker[edit]

Higgins returned to professional competition on 12 November 2010 in the Ruhr ChampionshipEuropean Players Tour Championship (EPTC) event five in Hamm and went on to win the tournament beating Shaun Murphy 4–2 in the final.[64] His winning streak continued in the Prague Classic (EPTC6) in Prague where he reached the final again, but lost 3–4 to Michael Holt.[65]

In the UK Championship, his first tournament on British soil since his return, he reached his third final in succession. He fought back from 2–7 and 5–9 down against Mark Williams, and from 7–9 after trailing 0–61, and needing a snooker to level the match.[66] He made a 68 break in the decider, and sealed a 10–9 victory with a double on the brown.[67] In securing his third UK title, Higgins became only the fourth player after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan, to win the second biggest ranking tournament in snooker three or more times. As a result of his progress in those three events, where he won 18 out of 19 matches, Higgins earned sufficient points to regain his position as World no. 1 under the new two-year rolling ranking system after having slipped to third by missing the start of the 2010/2011 season.[68]

Higgins lost in the first round of the Masters 4–6 against Graeme Dott[69] and withdrew from the German Masters after defeating Robert Milkins 5–3 in round one,[70] to return home due to the deteriorating health of his father, who subsequently died after a long battle against cancer.[71] A little over two weeks later, Higgins successfully defended his Welsh Open title by beating Stephen Maguire 9–6 in the final[72] – dedicating victory to his late father. Higgins won the Hainan Classic, defeating Jamie Cope in the final.[73] Higgins reached the quarter-final of the China Open, where he lost 2–5 against Shaun Murphy.[74] Higgins' next tournament was the Scottish Professional Championship, where he defeated Anthony McGill 6–1 in the final.[75][76]

In the World Championship, Higgins defeated Stephen Lee 10–5 in the first round, Rory McLeod 13–7 in the second round and Ronnie O'Sullivan 13–10 in the quarter-finals.[77] On the way to a 17–14 victory over Mark Williams in the semi-finals, Higgins was heckled by an audience member who shouted out, "How do you swallow that three hundred thousand, John? ... You're a disgrace to snooker."[78] Higgins went on to defeat Judd Trump 18–15 in the final to win his fourth world title,[79][80] which prompted Steve Davis to comment "I think John Higgins is the best snooker player I've ever seen in my life".[81] Despite the victory, Higgins lost the world number one ranking to Mark Williams.[82]

Struggles with form and rankings slide[edit]

Higgins had a poor 2011/2012 season, reaching only two quarter finals of major ranking events. His season-best performance was reaching the semi-finals of the Masters, where he lost 4–6 to Shaun Murphy.[83] Before the start of his World Championship title defence, Higgins admitted that his performance levels had not been good enough and that he had not been trying hard enough, managing just one or two days of practice a week.[84] In the first round of the tournament, Higgins came from 6–8 down to defeat Liang Wenbo 10–9.[85] He then played Stephen Hendry in the second round, the first time the two players had ever met in a World Championship, but Hendry thrashed the defending champion 13–4, with Higgins calling it the worst he had ever played at the Crucible.[86] Higgins finished the season ranked world number five.[87]

John Higgins (2013).

The high point of Higgins's 2012/2013 season was winning his 25th ranking title at the Shanghai Masters, after coming back from 2–7 down to defeat Judd Trump 10–9 in the final.[88] Higgins made a maximum break during the final, and compiled another 147 break in his second-round match against Mark Davis at the UK Championship.[88][89] He also won the minor-ranking Kay Suzanne Memorial Trophy, defeating Trump 4–2 in the final, and reached the final of the minor-ranking Bulgarian Open, where he lost 0–4 to Trump. However, the season thereafter was another disappointing one for Higgins. He lost 3–4 to unranked amateur Jordan Brown at the minor-ranking Scottish Open and reached only one other semi-final of a major ranking event, the World Open, which he lost 2–6 to Mark Allen.[90][91] He exited the World Championship in the first round, losing 6–10 to Mark Davis.[92] Afterward, he admitted that doubts about whether he could remain at the pinnacle of the sport after 20 years as a professional had affected his form.[93] Higgins finished the season ranked 11th, slipping out of the top 10 for the first time in 17 seasons.[94]

Higgins began the 2013/2014 season strongly. Playing with a new cue, he won the Bulgarian Open with a 4–1 victory over Neil Robertson in the final, having beaten Shaun Murphy and Ronnie O'Sullivan earlier in the event.[95] This win allowed him briefly to regain his top-10 ranking.[96] He followed this up by reaching the final of the season's first major ranking event, the Wuxi Classic, which he lost 7–10 to Robertson.[97] His form then deteriorated again and he suffered early defeats at a number of minor-ranking events, including a 0–4 loss to Mark King in the last 128 of the Paul Hunter Classic. He changed his cue again before defending his Shanghai Masters title, but lost 1–5 to Mark Davis in the last 16.[98] His Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup title defence ended with a 0–4 whitewash against Andrew Higginson in the last 128.[99] He lost 2–4 to Ding Junhui in the last 16 of the 2013 Indian Open and 2–6 to Matthew Stevens in the last 32 of the 2013 International Championship.[100][101] In the invitational Champion of Champions tournament, he lost 3–4 in the first round to Stephen Maguire.[102] He switched cues yet again before the UK Championship, but continued to struggle in his matches, calling his poor form "soul-destroying."[103] He lost 3–6 to Maguire in the last 16.[104] Referring to Higgins's frequent changes of cue, 1986 World Champion and television commentator Joe Johnson alleged that Higgins was "searching for something that is not there" and "looking for someone or something to blame" for his poor form.[105] Higgins retaliated by claiming that players in Johnson's era had struggled to make breaks of 30 or 40 on tables with much larger pockets, and by calling Johnson one of the sport's worst commentators.[106][107] After the UK Championship, Higgins slipped to number 12 in the world rankings, having failed to progress beyond the last 16 of any tournament since the Wuxi Classic in June.[108][109]

Before the Masters, Higgins revealed that he had reached the "depths of despair" after the UK Championship, after spending months "in turmoil." He also revealed that he had switched to yet another cue, had regained his tempo, and felt that he was playing better than he had in some time.[110] He defeated Stuart Bingham 6–2 in the first round.[111] In the quarter-finals, he faced defending champion Mark Selby. Selby established a 3–1 advantage before the mid-session interval, but Higgins then won four consecutive frames to take a 5–3 lead. Selby won the next two frames to take the match to a deciding frame. Higgins began the frame strongly, building up a 57–0 lead, but Selby managed to level the scores at 69–69 with three balls remaining on the table. The match ended when Selby doubled the blue into the middle pocket and then potted the pink to win 6–5.[112]

At the German Masters, Higgins lost 3–5 to Dominic Dale in the last 32.[113]

Personal life[edit]

Higgins married Denise in 2000; they have three children together: sons Pierce and Oliver, and daughter Claudia.[citation needed] He is a dedicated supporter of Celtic FC and frequently attends the team's matches. He enjoys playing poker.[114] He also follows English club Everton.[115]

He was escorted off a plane for being drunk in 2006 after losing the Malta Cup final to Ken Doherty, but became teetotal in preparation for the 2007 World Championship, which he went on to win[116]

Higgins was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.[117]

In January 2010, Higgins appeared on the BBC's Celebrity Mastermind, answering questions on his specialist subject Dallas. He finished third equal.

In February 2010, Higgins and his wife Denise appeared on ITV's Mr. and Mrs. and reached the final after answering 9 questions correctly out of 9 to win £30,000.[118] They donated the money to The Dalziel Centre – a day hospice for cancer patients, based at Strathclyde Hospital in Motherwell, of which Higgins became a patron after they cared for his terminally ill father.[119]

Performance and rankings timeline[edit]

Ranking[120][nb 1]UR[nb 2]12251112211234456415412511
Ranking tournaments
Wuxi Classic[nb 3]Tournament Not heldNon-rankingAF
Australian Goldfields OpenTournament Not held1RAA
Shanghai MastersTournament Not Held2R2RSFAQFW2R
Indian OpenTournament Not Held3R
International ChampionshipTournament Not Held1R3R
German Masters[nb 4]Tournament Not HeldWSFWNRTournament Not HeldWD2RLQ
Players Tour Championship FinalsTournament Not HeldDNQ1R1R
China Open[nb 6]Tournament Not HeldNRW1R1RSFNot Held2RFQFQFF2RQF2R1R
Non-ranking tournaments
Champion of ChampionsTournament Not Held1R
Variant format tournaments
Shoot-OutTournament Not Held2R2R1R
Former ranking tournaments
Dubai Classic[nb 8]LQLQ2RQF1RTournament Not Held
Malta Grand PrixNot HeldAAAAAQFATournament Not Held
Thailand Masters[nb 9]LQLQ1RQF1R1RQF1RSFQFNRTournament Not HeldNRTournament Not Held
Scottish Open[nb 10]LQLQWWSFFSFQF2R1RSF1RTournament Not Held
British OpenQF2RWF1RWSFQF2RWQFQFWTournament Not Held
Irish MastersNon-Ranking EventFQF1RNHNRTournament Not Held
Malta Cup[nb 11]LQQF1R1RWNH2RNot Held2RQFQFSFF1RNRTournament Not Held
Northern Ireland TrophyTournament Not HeldNR2R1RSFTournament Not Held
Former non-ranking tournaments
Scottish Masters1RAAQFSFSFFFQFWFTournament Not Held
Irish MastersAAA1RQFSFQFWQFWRanking EventNHATournament Not Held
Performance Table Legend
LQlost in the qualifying draw#Rlost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QFlost in the quarter-finals
SFlost in the semi–finalsFlost in the finalWwon the tournament
DNQdid not qualify for the tournamentAdid not participate in the tournamentWDwithdrew from the tournament
DQdisqualified from the tournament
NH / Not Heldevent was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Eventevent is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Eventevent is/was a ranking event.
MR / Minor-Ranking Eventevent is/was a minor-ranking event.

Career finals[edit]

Ranking event finals: 40 (25 titles, 15 runner-ups)[edit]

World Championship (4–1)
UK Championship (3–2)
Other (18–12)
OutcomeNo.YearChampionshipOpponent in the finalScore
Winner1.1994Grand PrixEngland Dave Harold9–6
Runner-up1.1995Welsh OpenEngland Steve Davis3–9
Winner2.1995British OpenEngland Ronnie O'Sullivan9–6
Winner3.1995International OpenEngland Steve Davis9–5
Runner-up2.1995Grand PrixScotland Stephen Hendry5–9
Winner4.1995German OpenRepublic of Ireland Ken Doherty9–3
Winner5.1996International Open (2)England Rod Lawler9–3
Runner-up3.1996British OpenEngland Nigel Bond8–9
Runner-up4.1996UK ChampionshipScotland Stephen Hendry9–10
Winner6.1997European OpenEngland John Parrott9–5
Runner-up5.1997Grand Prix (2)Wales Dominic Dale6–9
Winner7.1997German Open (2)England John Parrott9–4
Runner-up6.1998Welsh Open (2)England Paul Hunter5–9
Runner-up7.1998Scottish OpenEngland Ronnie O'Sullivan5–9
Winner8.1998British Open (2)Scotland Stephen Hendry9–8
Winner9.1998World Snooker ChampionshipRepublic of Ireland Ken Doherty18–12
Winner10.1998UK ChampionshipWales Matthew Stevens10–6
Winner11.1999Grand Prix (2)Wales Mark Williams9–8
Winner12.1999China InternationalScotland Billy Snaddon9–3
Winner13.2000Welsh OpenEngland Stephen Lee9–8
Winner14.2000UK Championship (2)Wales Mark Williams10–4
Runner-up8.2001World Snooker ChampionshipEngland Ronnie O'Sullivan14–18
Winner15.2001British Open (3)Scotland Graeme Dott9–6
Runner-up9.2003Irish MastersEngland Ronnie O'Sullivan9–10
Runner-up10.2003LG Cup (3)Wales Mark Williams5–9
Winner16.2004British Open (4)Scotland Stephen Maguire9–6
Winner17.2005Grand Prix (3)England Ronnie O'Sullivan9–2
Runner-up11.2006Malta Cup (2)Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty8–9
Runner-up12.2006China OpenWales Mark Williams8–9
Winner18.2007World Snooker Championship (2)England Mark Selby18–13
Winner19.2008Grand Prix (4)Wales Ryan Day9–7
Runner-up13.2009China Open (2)England Peter Ebdon8–10
Winner20.2009World Snooker Championship (3)England Shaun Murphy18–9
Runner-up14.2009UK Championship (2)China Ding Junhui8–10
Winner21.2010Welsh Open (2)England Ali Carter9–4
Winner22.2010UK Championship (3)Wales Mark Williams10–9
Winner23.2011Welsh Open (3)Scotland Stephen Maguire9–6
Winner24.2011World Snooker Championship (4)England Judd Trump18–15
Winner25.2012Shanghai MastersEngland Judd Trump10–9
Runner-up15.2013Wuxi ClassicAustralia Neil Robertson7–10

Minor ranking tournaments[edit]

Non-ranking tournaments[edit]

Pro-am tournaments[edit]

Team events[edit]

Amateur tournaments[edit]


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  1. ^ From the 2010/2011 season it shows the ranking at the beginning of the season.
  2. ^ New players on the Main Tour don't have a ranking.
  3. ^ The event was called the Jiangsu Classic (2008/2009–2009/2010)
  4. ^ The event run under different name as German Open (1995/1996–1997/1998)
  5. ^ The event run under different names as LG Cup (2001/2002–2003/2004) and Grand Prix (1984/1985–2000/2001 and 2004/2005–2009/2010)
  6. ^ The event run under different name as China International (1998/1999)
  7. ^ The event run under different name as European League (1992/1993–1996/1997)
  8. ^ The event run under different names as Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
  9. ^ The event run under different names as Asian Open (1992/1993) and Thailand Open (1993/94–1996/97)
  10. ^ The event run under different names as International Open (1992/1993–1996/1997) and Players Championship (2003/2004)
  11. ^ The event run under different names as European Open (1988/1989–1996/1997 and 2001/2002–2003/2004) and Irish Open (1998/1999)

External links[edit]