Danger signs up for rivals as Seve settles in

SEVE Ballesteros last night sounded an eve-of-tournament warning to his rivals for the Hongkong Open title.

After completing his first round in a practice over the Royal Hongkong Golf Club's Composite Course, the charismatic Spaniard gave his vote of approval to the 6,732-yard, par-71 layout.

''I think it's a good course . . . and I think it will suit my game because there is plenty of room to hit,'' said Ballesteros, making his eagerly-awaited debut in the territory in the opening leg of the 1993 Asian Tour.

Certainly the course is far more to his liking than the Singapore Island Country Club's Bukit layout where he missed the half-way cut in last week's Johnnie Walker Classic.

''The fairways were very narrow and I did not play very well in Singapore,'' admitted the 35-year-old, whose thrilling shot-making has made him a crowd favourite the world over.

However, even for an escapologist of the reputation and ability of Ballesteros, the tight, tree-lined fairways and thick, clinging rough in Singapore proved too tough to handle as rounds of 71 and 76 left him two shots above the cut-off mark.

Not that the five-time Major champion is unduly perturbed with his form at such an early stage of the season.

''I played well in the first tournament of the season in Dubai and I'm reasonably happy with my game,'' said Ballesteros, who claimed third place in the 1993 PGA European Tour opener a fortnight ago.

Added Ballesteros: ''The course at Fanling is not easy. I saw the scores that Tom (Watson) had last year. He must have played very well.'' One man who expects Ballesteros to be in contention for top honours this week is his European Ryder Cup teammate of 1991, David Feherty.

The Northern Irishman described as nonsense media speculation that Ballesteros' extraordinary golfing powers are waning and that he may not win a place in the European team for this year's Ryder Cup at The Belfry.

Said Feherty: ''Seve is still a great player. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he wins this week and wins more Majors.

''As far as the Ryder Cup is concerned there is no way he won't be in the European team. He's an inspiration to his teammates and strikes fear into the heart of opponents.''