Heggarty fired a superb four under par final round of 67 to match South African Berrtus Smit’s seven under par total of 277 and top the leaderboard courtesy of a card playoff, with Smit posting a level par 71.
The 52 year old, who had a hat-trick of bogeys starting on the 10th hole at last year’s Final to lose the top spot, had a sense of déjà vu when he dropped shots on both 11 and 12 but managed to clear his thoughts to recover with three birdies.
“I holed a monster 60ft putt on the seventh for birdie which got me going but I played ten and 11 really badly,” he said. “Last year I did the same thing and bogeyed ten, 11 and 12, so I got a bit anxious but I said ‘no, stop it’ and then I made a birdie on the par five 12th. That was the key hole. I was away again after that but it did mess with my mind.
“I’ve been playing nicely all week and today I just got it going,” he said. “I kept the same game plan the only thing that changed was that I holed a couple more putts today. That took the pressure off a bit more.
“I wasn’t really out to win it today I was just out to win my card. That was what we were here from. I knew if I shot two or three under par that would be good enough. When I came on the 18th green that was the first time I even knew I was leading.
“It means I’ve now got another full season ahead of me on the European Senior Tour. I’ve got a lot to do though during the winter but it gives me something to look forward to.
“I’d love to win a tournament and carry this on and get into the top 30. I didn’t play well all season so I’ve just got to believe it. I don’t think I’ve ever lived up to my potential. This will give me confidence though – it’s a lot of pressure with only six cards available.”
Argentine Alfonso Barrera, who finished a stroke behind the pair on six under par, would have finished a shot clear of Heggarty had it not been for a two stroke penalty incurred for practice putting on the third green, which is prohibited by local rule.
He finished fourth on the card count back after a one over par 72 matching England’s Peter Allan’s six under par total at Vale da Pinta, Pestana Golf Resort,
Allan’s compatriot Kevin Spurgeon finished fifth with overnight leader Greg Towne, who survived a tricky final day to complete the top six – gaining a ranking in Category Six for next season.
Towne started the final round on 10 under par, three shots clear of the field, but carded four bogeys and a double bogey en route to a 76 as he claimed the final Category Six spot.
While positions seven to 14 gain cards in Category Nine from the Qualifying School Final, a further 12 players gained playing privileges for 2009 as both Allan, Towne and Michael Lord all celebrate their 50th birthdays, and thus gaining eligibility for the Senior Tour, during the 2009 season.
That meant Zimbabwe’s Christopher Williams, England’s George Ryall and 18th placed Anders Johnsson of Sweden all gained playing privileges in Category Nine, although Williams himself does not turn 50 until March.
Leading final round scores
Top Six in Category Six
277 J Heggarty (Nir) 69 71 70 67; B Smit (RSA) 70 66 70 71;
278 P Allan (Eng) 71 70 69 68; A Barrera (Arg) 69 66 71 72;
279 K Spurgeon (Eng) 68 72 69 70; G Towne (USA) 68 66 69 76;
280 M Williams (Zim) 66 75 69 70; T Giedeon (Ger) 69 73 67 71;
281 P Brostedt (Swe) 71 69 71 70;
282 J Hoskison (Eng) 70 71 71 70;
284 M Briggs (Eng) 72 73 70 69;
285 J Lapsley (Nzl) 68 78 69 70; J Anglada (Esp) 70 72 72 71;
286 C Williams (RSA) 72 73 71 70; B Hardwick (Can) 74 71 70 71; G Ryall (Eng) 70 74 70 72; M Lord (Eng) 70 71 72 73;