Paul Howard warmed up for this week’s Lytham Trophy with a two shot victory in the Pines Trophy at Hillside – but it is still Pleasington star Jonathan Hurst sitting proudly at the top of the Srixon Northern Order of Merit.

England international Howard, from Southport and Ainsdale, who is a member of the GB&I squad to compete in the St Andrews Trophy in Sweden in August, trailed host club player Richie Blundell by four strokes after opening with a 73.

But he gained the ascendancy with a second round 69, which featured an eagle at the 562-yard fifth, to compile a two-under-par aggregate.

Blundell followed up with 75 as Hurst, one back after posting 70 and 75, ensured that Lancashire county players claimed the top three places.

Hurst, back in the fray after missing most of last year because of work commitments with Sky and winner of the Crosby Challenge Plate earlier in the month, holds a 75 point lead over Howard in the Cleveland Srixon Northern Order of Merit.

Meanwhile, after a two-year £2m revamp, which includes new tees and greens and a 500-yard overall extension, beautiful Cumbrian course Carus Green will become the home of the PGA North Region Championship.

A curtain-raising pro-am on September 12 will be followed by 36 holes over the next two days with PGA North Order of Merit ranking points at stake.

PGA North secretary Graham Maly said: “It’s a fantastic facility with state-of-the-art practice facilities and amazing on-site accommodation.

“The picturesque course will provide a great test for our members. The 18th is a risk and reward hole and will ensure an exciting climax to the event.

“We look forward to our three-year relationship with the club and the staging of this year’s event and PGA North Region Championship over the next two seasons.

“It’s great to establish an Order of Merit event in Cumbria (PGA in the North East/North West) and we hope to grow our relationship with the club.”

The Scores Pines Ttophy Scores: 142 Paul Howard (Southport & Ainsdale) 73 69; 144 Richie Blundell (Hillside) 69 75; 145 Jonathan Hurst (Pleasington) 70 75; 147 Daniel Sutton (Walsall) 74 73; 149 David Peel (Stockport) 75 74; 150 Mark Duncalf (Formby) 76 74, James Wilkinson (Grange Park) 75 75, Will Bowe (Workington) 73 77; 151 James Rooney (West Lancs) 76 75, James McCormick (Styal) 76 75, Ciaran Doherty (Bury) 74 77; 152 Graeme Jackson (Manchester) 76 76.

Northern Order of Merit (after two events) Jonathan Hurst Pleasington 225, Paul Howard Southport & Ainsdale 150, Adam Delves Old Padeswood 100, Richie Blundell Hillside 100, Mark Duncalf Formby 90, John Carroll Huyton & Prescot 75, Paul McFerran Childwall 60, Daniel Sutton Walsall 60, Paul Kinnear Formby 50, James Rooney West Lancs 50, David Peel Stockport 50, Joey Lamb Clitheroe 40, Joshua Wilkinson Grange Park 40, Richard Bee Phoenix Park 30, Will Bowe Workington 30, Chris Harrison Sandiway 20, James McCormick Styal 20, Kieran Waters Carlisle 15, Ciaran Doherty Bury 15, Michael Howard Royal Birkdale 10, Graeme Jackson Manchester 10