After producing an uncharacteristically error-strewn display in losing to O'Sullivan in the group stage in Coventry, the four-times world champion cut a dominant figure to progress to the last 64 of the event with breaks of 131 and 73 the highlight of a professional display.
The Scotsman led 2-0, 3-1 and 4-1 before finally concluding matters with his young Swiss opponent missing too many balls.
Superb plant from O'Sullivan against Hawkins
Higgins - winner of this tournament in 2012 - will face Ian Preece for a place in the last 32.
World champion Mark Selby enjoyed a 5-2 win over world number 91 Ian Burns after trailing 2-1 early on.
Burns had the chance to move 3-1 clear at the interval, but was haunted by seeing the final red stay out as Selby restored parity at 2-2 before breaks of 68, 120 and 132 saw the world number one into the last 64 and a meeting with Chris Wakelin.
Elsewhere in the first round, Mark Allen completed another notable 5-1 victory over Yan Bingtao, who beat Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan before losing 9-2 to Allen in the last four of the International Championship a fortnight ago.
The Northern Irishman ran in a 73 break on his way to a 4-0 lead. Bingtao prevented the whitewash by pinching the fifth frame, but a closing knock of 102 gave Allen an impressive victory.
- Billy Joe Castle 5-2 Zhang Jiangkang
- Li Zhen 3-5 Chen Feilong
- Soheil Vahedi 5-2 Ma Chunmao
Round of 128
- Mei Xi Wen bt Ding Junhui W/O
- John Higgins 5-2 Alexander Ursenbacher
- Liang Wenbo 5-2 Rod Lawler
- Soheil Vahedi v Sam Baird
- Mark Selby 5-2 Ian Burns
- Li Zhen v Stuart Carrington
- Billy Joe Castle v Rory McLeod
- Tom Ford 4-5 Jimmy Robertson
- Lee Walker 4-5 Kurt Maflin
- Ryan Day 4-5 Yu De Lu
- Yan Bingtao 1-5 Mark Allen
- Jack Lisowski 5-1 Chris Totten
- Fergal O'Brien 5-4 Mitchell Mann
- Mark King 2-5 Jamie Jones
- Michael Georgiou 3-5 Ben Woollaston
- Zhou Yuelong 5-4 Sanderson Lam
- David Gilbert 5-0 Mark Joyce
- Wang Yuchen 1-5 Mark Williams
- Graeme Dott 5-3 Xiao Guodong
- Robert Milkins 5-4 Lyu Haotian
- Michael White 5-4 Mark Davis
- Akani Songsermsawad w/o vs. Stuart Bingham
Fluke plant helps Hawkins against O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan edges astonishing tension-packed frame