HURST Green’s Mark Young wrapped up his fourth Northern Order of Merit title in six years in a tense finish to the Pines Trophy at Hillside.

The Lancashire champion had 20 points to spare over county team-mate Sean Doherty, who had leapfrogged him into top spot when he prevailed in the Pendle Witch at Clitheroe two weeks earlier.

Young was absent from that event because he was competing in the English Men’s County Championship at Woodhall Spa, where he finished second on countback.

And it was the same scoring method that ensured he claimed third place at Hillside after four players returned 73.

But Young admitted: “I thought I was out of the reckoning because I was four over par after nine holes.

“But birdies on the 11th, 15th and 16th saved me.”

Former professional Doherty from Bury, who had racked up five victories since mid-July, failed to pick up any points after a 77.

Hillside winner was Southport and Ainsdale’s Paul Howard, who triumphed in the Crosby Challenge Plate at West Lancs – the first of the 28 events sponsored by Cleveland Srixon.

Howard tied eighth in the merit table dominated by his fellow Lancashire players.

It was not the closest finish to the merit race – Young lost out to Prestbury’s Mike Bedford in 2009, who matched the total points but took the title on events won.