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Mahan and Johnson ease into third round of Match Play

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Hunter Mahan became the first player to reach the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship with a crushing 5&3 victory over Yang Yong-eun on Thursday.

In blazing desert sunshine, Mahan birdied six of the first eight holes to go four up on the South Korean and recovered from bogeys at the ninth and 10th to seal the win on the 15th green.

"I was playing as well as I could, hitting fairways and greens, giving myself good looks," Mahan told reporters after carding seven birdies and three bogeys.

"If you hit it good around here where these pins are and you get on the right level, you are going to have some putts, you are going to be able to make some putts. Today I was able to do that."

Soon after, Mahan's U.S. Ryder Cup team mate Dustin Johnson wrapped up a 7&5 demolition of Italy's Francesco Molinari at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

Johnson, who needed 20 holes to scrape past compatriot Jim Furyk in the opening round, never let up after seizing control against Molinari with four birdies in the first eight holes.

The match ended at the par-five 13th where the Italian parred and the big-hitting Johnson was just 10 feet from the hole in two shots.

American Steve Stricker, champion in 2001 when the event was held in Australia, won a tight encounter with South African Louis Oosthuizen one up after sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-four 18th.

Three-times champion Tiger Woods, seeking his first PGA Tour victory in over two years, was all square with fellow American Nick Watney after seven holes.

In other second-round matches, British world number three Lee Westwood was four up on Swede Robert Karlsson after eight holes while second-ranked Northern Irishman Rory Mcllroy was one up on Dane Sanders Hansen after four holes.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)