Johnson ends Molinari's challenge

2/23/2012 8:16:20 PM
Dustin Johnnson  (Getty Images)
Dustin Johnnson (Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson was the first player into the last 16 of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship with a 7 and 5 victory over Francesco Molinari.

The American romped to a comprehensive win over his Ryder Cup opponent, who seemed slightly jaded following his 20-hole marathon against Thomas Björn in the first round.

Johnson, who also needed extra holes to overcome Jim Furyk, needed just 13 holes – six of which he birdied.

He took five of the first eight, and although Molinari threatened to fight back with a win on the tenth, Johnson responded with back-to-back birdies to bring about an early finish.

Hunter Mahan joined his Ryder Cup teammate in round three with a 5 and 3 win against Y E Yang, a day after the Korean had sent Graeme McDowell home for the second year running.

Steve Stricker and Louis Oosthuizen were all square with one to play, while Scottish pair Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird were jostling to become the first European through.

Laird led Italian teenager Matteo Manassero by one with three to play, while Commercialbank Qatar Masters champion Lawrie was two up on Ryo Ishikawa with four holes remaining.

Lee Westwood raced to a four up lead on Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer was level pegging with David Toms after eight, and Rory McIlroy one up on Anders Hansen.

The day’s biggest shock appeared to be on the cards in the Gary Player bracket. Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez won the first three holes against US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, who last week lost a play-off for the Northern Trust Open.

Laird did not allow Manassero to get back on terms and after sinking a four foot putt on the short 16th for his eighth birdie a half on the next was good enough to put him into the last 16.

He then waited to see if it was Lawrie he took on next and the Aberdeen golfer was two up with two to go on Ishikawa.

Robert Rock was three down with only three holes remaining against Mark Wilson, but Westwood was cruising against Karlsson - still four up after eight.

Tiger Woods bogeyed the seventh to go back to all square with Nick Watney and McIlroy was level with Hansen after running up a double bogey six at the fifth.