What seemed like a grand idea two months ago turned into sheer agony for Rypien yesterday at Avenel in the second round of the $1.1 million Kemper Open.
After shooting a 9-over-par 80 in Thursday's opening round, Rypien might have broken the tournament's competitive record -- for highest score -- with a 20-over-par 91.
"Is there a sponsor's exemption for a sponsor's exemption?" asked a somewhat shellshocked, but still classy Rypien. "After today, I don't know if I'd want to go out there tomorrow. The best line was, 'Stick to your day job.' "
Rypien resembled a weekend hacker rather than the one-handicapper he is alleged to be: three triple-bogeys, three double-bogeys, five bogeys. He finished the front nine triple, triple, double.
"The wheels came off," said Rypien. "Subconsciously, you're trying to fight back. When your swing can't hold up, your game can't hold up."
The only thing that seemed to hold up was Rypien's indomitable spirit. Comparing the Kemper experience to a five-interception game against the Chicago Bears two years ago -- the Redskins won, 10-9 -- Rypien was smiling early last night.
"I had a tremendous time," said Rypien. "The laughs I guess made it all worth it. Every time I hit a green in regulation, even if it was 55 or 75 feet away, everyone cheered. The little kids who followed me thought my bad shots were good shots."
Despite his less-than-stellar performance, Rypien said he wouldn't mind giving the Kemper another try. And tournament chairman Ben Brundred, Jr. left the door open for Rypien's return.
"I thought the players had a lot of fun, I think Mark had a lot of fun," Brundred said last night. "Obviously, he would have liked to have played better. I'd love to have him every year. He adds a lot of class to the tournament."
Rypien, who had said in March that he hoped to make the cut, was a good sport about the way things turned out. He said he wouldn't mind trying to qualify for the tour once his pro football career ends.
"I have a good head for the game," he said. "But if you see a golf swing out there, pass it my way."