By Tony Jimenez

NEWPORT, Wales (Reuters) - United States captain Corey Pavin has enlisted the help of a leading military figure to rally his troops for this week's Ryder Cup defense.

Major Dan Rooney, 37, a decorated F-16 fighter pilot and a PGA of America golf professional, talked to Pavin's players in the team room at Celtic Manor on Tuesday evening.

"He is a great patriot, a very inspirational guy," Pavin told reporters on Wednesday. "He's a golfer too and I just thought it would be neat to have him come over and talk.

"It wasn't so much a motivational speech per se but maybe about a little more awareness of what's happening around the world in a military sense, how team unity and accountability to each other is very important."

In 1991, Pavin came in for criticism for wearing a 'Desert Storm' cap during his Ryder Cup debut at Kiawah Island.

Asked whether it would have been wiser to distance himself from military connotations at Celtic Manor this week, the U.S. captain replied: "No, I don't think so.

"Military awareness in the United States is probably at an all-time high and I think people, certainly in the States and over here (in Britain), appreciate the military and what they do for our freedoms.


"That's what it was about at Kiawah. It was about supporting the troops in Desert Storm (the first Gulf War), not only the U.S. troops but the troops from Great Britain and around the world," added Pavin.

"I think what the military does is amazing -- to put your life on the line for what you believe and for the freedoms of other people, obviously it's the ultimate sacrifice -- and I think it's very worthwhile to recognize that."

Pavin said he wanted the major to underline the captain's own thoughts on the importance of his 12 players sticking together in the biennial team event against Europe.

"I want these guys to be accountable to each other and watch each other's backs and that's basically what happens in the military," said Pavin.

"He just shared a few stories about that and how it relates in the military. It was kind of fun listening to some stories he was telling last night.

"We just sat around and it was story time. To talk to a fighter pilot about the things he has done, night runs, just all of the stories.

(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)