One of the true beauties to ever appear in the series, he is a feisty New Yorker who could use the word friggin as a noun, verb or adjective. Never at a loss for energy, Fonnest is a walking Red Bull ad.
While he was sent packing by Benoit Beisser in the first episode of the 12-week series, his enthusiasm will live on as the 11 remaining competitors duke it out each week to win the coveted exemption to play in the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic, and as important, claim the title of Big Break: Mesquite champion against the deepest field in Big Break history.
Going into the series, Fonnest knew he was the weakest player in the talented field but relished the moniker of underdog.
A comparable lack of skill, however, wasnt his only disadvantage on the show. Fonnest had little preparation time for the event. A manager at the Eisenhower Golf Club in East Meadow, N.Y, he didnt have the time to practice or play in mini-tour events to prepare for the show like many of the other competitors.
Then, there was no golf pedigree to fall back on. While others list schools such as Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M on their resume, not to mention playing on the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR, Fonnest graduated from SUNY Delhi College of Technology and has never been in a TOUR event where he didnt buy a ticket.
Heart, though, Fonnest showed a ton of it. While an underdog, he approached Big Break: Mesquite with the never-say-die attitude. Fonnest said being on the show was a once in a lifetime experience and that he already felt like a winner by being picked from thousands of contestants who auditioned for the show. However, he quickly added that he had something to prove in the competition.
I didnt want to just occupy one of the spots on the show, said Fonnest, who missed the cut and was forced to compete in the Elimination Challenge against three other players. My parents taught me to fight for what I want. I came to Mesquite to win the thing.
It was a tall order for the 56 and 115 pound self-professed grinder who plays a type of game that matches his demeanor. Fonnest doesnt possess the power game, which was a liability in the first challenge of the show that required hitting a 260-yard shot, and relies on his accuracy.
Im the little guy with the funky swing, explained Fonnest, who has a loop in his swing that resembles PGA TOUR star Jim Furyks action. A lot of people underestimate me. I dont look like I can generate power, but I can. When they see me hit the ball they shut up real quick.
Fellow Big Break: Mesquite competitor Matt Vick, who learned a thing or two about competition as an All-America kicker while at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before playing professional golf, summed up Fonnest best when he said, You dont let the underdog hang around in sports or he will find a way to beat you.
Maybe Fonnest could have beaten them all with a little luck. A few inches higher on a flop-shot or making a putt in the Elimination Challenge and he might still be around.
While it wasnt this dogs day, Fonnest truly loves to play. In high school, he infuriated his prom date because, rather than getting ready for the prom, he spent four days camped out in the parking lot at Bethpage State Park to insure that hed be the first player to play the newly redesigned Black Course. Always the optimist, he likes to say that he held the course record for a couple hours.
And, in a nutshell, that is the Fonnest Big Break: Mesquite fans missed out on getting to know.