LONGRIDGE'S Mark Young will bid to defend his Cleveland Srixon Northern Order of Merit title when the first event of the new season takes place on Sunday.

No fewer than six world amateur ranking tournaments will figure in the Northern Order of Merit this season.

The Southport and Ainsdale Bowl and Formby Hare have held the status for three years and combine their aggregate scores for the Lancashire Links Trophy.

The Grange Park Rose Bowl and Childwall Trophy also introduced a 72-hole award this year and the Wilpshire Trophy and Pleasington Antlers will follow suit.

All told there are 29 fixtures, sadly the Astbury Jewel having withdrawn.

Young, who has won the event for the past two years, is aiming to complete a hat-trick and claim a fourth title in five years.

He also won the competition in 2007 and 2008.

The Northern Order of Merit has been kind to East Lancashire golfers in recent years with Pleasington’s Michael Hunt (twice) and former Blackburn star Stephen McGlynn also taking the main prize since the turn of the Millennium.

The summer’s 29 competitions are a real test for golfers with Sunday’s Crosby Challenge at West Lancsa tough start.

Other highlights are the Acorn Trophy at Accrington at the end of June before an early July double header in Blackburn.

Golfers tee off in the Wilpshire Trophy on Saturday, July 5, before they take on the challenge of Pleasington 24 hours later in the Pleasington Antlers.

August sees the Revidge Cannon at Blackburn and the DE Ingham Trophy at Rossendale.

September sees Nelson’s Trafalgar Trophy before the curtain comes down on another season with the Pendle Witch at Clitheroe on September 21.