-- TROON, Scotland -- "It's anybody's ballgame." "This thing is still wide open." "Let's not count anyone out of it."
Yada, yada, yada.
Don't believe the hype. Entering the final round of the 145th Open, there are two contenders for the prestigious Claret Jug and 79 other guys who are simply playing for third place.
These are the only choices.
Through 54 holes, Stenson holds a single-stroke advantage, leading here at Royal Troon with a score of 12-under par. Mickelson, his weekend playing partner, is nipping at Stenson's heels, the result of a back-and-forth third round that saw plenty of flip-flopping between them.
The next-closest player on the leaderboard is Bill Haas, a half-dozen shots off the pace. This is the same Haas who not only has never before won a major, but he has also never even finished in the top 10 in 28 previous appearances. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
One shot further back is Andrew "Beef" Johnston, who might still claim feel-good-story honors but isn't likely a serious threat to win. Another shot back is J.B. Holmes, who has never won a major, either. Behind him? Steve Stricker, Tony Finau and Soren Kjeldsen, three others who have never won one.
And so concludes the list of every "contender" within a single-digit differential of the lead.
If that's not enough to convince you that this tournament is a two-horse race, then just take a look at the history.
There have been 113 editions of The Open since it became a 72-hole event. On only three occasions -- 2.7 percent of the time -- has a player come from behind to win after a deficit of six strokes or more entering the final round.
The list? Paul Lawrie in 1999, when Jean Van de Velde triple-bogeyed the last hole; Padraig Harrington in 2007, when Sergio Garcia blew perhaps his biggest chance to date; and Ernie Els in 2012, when Adam Scott collapsed on the last four holes.
Each of those comebacks was incumbent upon one player falling back into the pack. This time, there are two -- and they're not exactly a couple of guys you'd expect to wilt under the pressure.
Even though Stenson hasn't won a major, he's ranked sixth in the world and hardly a newbie when it comes to the intense spotlight on a Sunday afternoon. And even though Mickelson hasn't won in exactly three years to the week, he's a proven closer, with 42 previous PGA Tour victories to his résumé.
Despite all of this, the mercurial left-hander wasn't buying into the idea that the final pairing will essentially be a match play situation.
"No, not at all," he said. "I don't see that."
Stenson hinted that he could see it that way before mirroring Mickelson's viewpoint.
Asked whether he'll play the opponent or the course, the leader said, "Well, it's a bit of both, but particularly mainly I'm going to play the course. I've got my game plan. It's taken me so far."
The scenario is eerily reminiscent of the 1977 Open, famously referred to as the Duel in the Sun. After three rounds in that tournament, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were tied for the lead, three strokes clear of the next-closest competitor. By the time it was over, Watson had bested Nicklaus by a single shot with nobody else within single digits.
And it should be noted: Watson finished with a score of 12 under to Nicklaus' 11 under -- the same totals for Stenson and Mickelson, respectively, right now.
So, call it the Battle in the Breeze. Or the War in the Wind. Even the Grapple in the Gust.
Whatever the name, it's clear that this major championship will come down to one of two players winning on Sunday.
It's not anybody's ballgame. This thing isn't still wide open. Count everyone else out of it.
Stenson or Mickelson. That's it. These are the only choices.