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Ulster-Canadian splashes out £4m for room at St Andrews

It is one of the greatest scenes in sport... the awe-inspiring 18th green at St Andrews, the home of golf.

It’s a place where great champions are made and dreams are realised.

Millions of pairs of eyes were on the 18th yesterday as South African Louis Oosthuizen putted out to win his first Major championship and join that pantheon of greats in the game.

And an Ulster-Canadian businessman had, perhaps, the best view of the drama unfolding — but, boy, did he have to pay for it.

It is believed that retired tycoon James Kinnear, whose family hails from Ballymena in Co Antrim, paid out almost £4 million for Number 9, The Links, which overlooks that all-important final hole.

Mr Kinnear said: “I was here at St Andrews last year for a few rounds of golf and on my way to the Royal and Ancient I noticed the ‘for sale’ sign at 9, The Links. ‘Why not?’ I said to myself.”

Too good an opportunity (for a multi-millionaire with a passion for golf) to pass up, Mr Kinnear signed on the dotted line for the property in April.

As he entertained guests at the Open, including an American Golf Association official, the head of an Asian bank and an English financier, Mr Kinnear was dressed to impress in a kilt.

However, despite his attire he pointed out that his roots are firmly in Ulster soil. He said: “I’m a Kinnear, originally from Ballymena in Northern Ireland. I think some of my family may have eventually settled in Fife in Scotland, but Ballymena is where the family came from many years ago.”

Mr Kinnear said the house would be used by his family, friends and business colleagues to enjoy themselves when they come to Scotland to play golf. It is thought to be, in terms of pounds per square foot, the most expensive property in Scotland. And, on days like yesterday, it’s easy to understand why.

The terrace is so close to the 18th hole that Mr Kinnear has had to take on the role of marshal, hushing his house guests to allow the players to concentrate on their crucial putts.

With all the drama of this year’s 150th anniversary Open now over, the Kinnears (formerly of Ballymena) will have no problem getting a green-side seat for the prestigious tournament when it returns to St Andrews in 2015.

Background

Jim Kinnear, whose family emigrated to Candada from Ballymena, Co Antrim, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1969.

He was certified as a financial analyst in 1979 and founded the Pengrowth Energy Trust in 1988.

He was awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2001 and the Alberta Venture Businessman of the Year award in 2008. Mr Kinnear retired in September 2009.

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