"I got up and I was speaking," the Greenbrier owner said. "I said, 'There are three ways you can make a friend in this world. You can tell a secret, make a confession and ask a favor.'
"I said, 'Phil, let me tell you this. There are a lot of people who would regard you as a friend of West Virginia. Let me make a confession. It really meant a tremendous amount to me to commit and come to our tournament.' Then I said, 'Phil, let me tell you a secret. There are several West Virginians that can get pretty dad gum rowdy.' Then I said, 'Let me ask a favor. For God's sake, make the cut.'"
All joking aside, Justice said Mickelson couldn't quite pinpoint the reason for his struggles at the Old White TPC.
In 2011, Mickelson was 1-over through 9 holes and, despite a birdie on No. 10, finished 1-over after a bogey on No. 15. His second round included five bogeys and three birdies.
Last year, he had a double bogey on each day, finishing 2-over par for the first 36 holes, continuing a stretch during which he shot over par in 10 consecutive 18-hole rounds. Mickelson has missed just two cuts this season, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Feb. 3 and was third in the Wells Fargo Championship on May 5.
Still, his year has been a rollercoaster, featuring four top 20 finishes, but three others 50 and lower in the events he finished.
"He said, 'I can play that golf course,' " Justice said. "I believe that the Old White has a way, that if you opt to try to attack it, it'll bite you. If you let it come to you, it'll reward you. I think that's the mark of a great, great golf course."
Since Appleby's course record final-round 59 allowed him to finish 22-under par and edge Jeff Overton by one stroke in the inaugural Classic in 2010, changes to the golf course have made scoring more difficult.
No other significant course changes are expected for this year's Classic on the 7,287-yard, par 70 layout.
There weren't any last year either, when defending champion Stallings finished T56 and broke par only once. In 2011, Appleby shot 3-over the first two rounds and missed the cut.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstev...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.