A Good Example of Bad Course Management

How far can the average professional golfer hit a 3 or 4 iron? Just looking for average here; not a nuclear shot by Daly or a pounded hook by Bubba Watson. 210 yards? 220 yards?
Would you guess possibly 230 yards? Could your average, run-of-the-mill, Everyday Joe Pro Golfer hit a 3 iron from a perfect lie 230 yards? Now how about that same shot into a par 5 with adrenaline pumping through your veins and all you need is birdie to put yourself into a great position to win a PGA Tournament?
That is the exact situation that Rickie Fowler found himself in Sunday on the 15th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And, as the Golf Channel's Rich Learner writes, choosing to instead lay-up on the hole only to eventually miss the green on his third shot proved to be the turning point in Fowler's round:

The kid who looks like he could stand in the pocket and just rifle it on a line 45 yards down field dumped it to his safety valve who then got flattened by the free safety. Rickie Fowler laid up at No. 15 with just 210 yards to clear the water, 230 to the front and the easiest hole-location of the week on the par 5 that kicks off a thrilling finishing stretch. It was a stock 3-iron, maybe a humped up 4.

Fowler goes on to explain his thinking after the round and after losing to Hunter Mahan for the tournament title:

“If I was a few back I may have gone for it,” he told Steve Sands after the round. It also must be pointed out that Fowler failed to go for the green in 2 on Saturday from a similar distance. He also made par. If you hit it in the water, and the same goes for Michael Sim and Tim Clark and Bubba Watson, all of whom laid up with nothing to show for it earlier this year, you man up and tell the press, “I was trying to win the golf tournament.” Who’s going to argue with that? “The tournament’s not won on 15,” Fowler added.

You're right Rickie. The tournament isn't won on 15. However, you were also not being asked to hit an amazing golf shot, certainly not by PGA Professional standards at least. Especially if you had ball in hand, and especially with the easiest pin placement of the week.

Don't tell me that Mark Calcavecchia is more of a man than you, Rickie.

(Note: Calc made it in two)