Written by: Sarah Harden, Media Relations Student Intern
OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss golfer Taelor Rubin hopes to enter her sophomore season as a Rebel with another impressive year.
Last year Rubin, a Raleigh, North Carolina native, shot a career-low of 73 in her first college tournament after shooting a birdie on her first hole.
"I was playing with some really good girls at that tournament," Rubin said. "We played with Florida and Georgia, and those are the top two teams in the SEC. They were all seniors that I played with, and I'm a freshman out there playing golf. I was shaking the whole tournament."
Now that she has the title of letterwinner under her belt, Rubin said she is more confident and excited about getting back on the golf course.
"The last two weekends we had some of the lowest qualifying scores that we've seen here at Ole Miss, and that's when you know you've got a good team and you're ready to compete with the best of them," Rubin said. "We had four or five under-par rounds, something we haven't done before, and I think we've got a national championship team on our hands. Obviously we haven't even played our first tournament, but I have a lot of faith in these girls that we're going to be really good this year."
Rubin said when she first began playing golf, she prepared in an unusual way.
"I used to be so superstitious," she said. "I could only go in the same bathroom every day of a tournament if I played well, but now I'm not as superstitious. But, I've marked my golf ball the same way since I was a sophomore in high school, with red and blue dots on either side of the Titleist, red on the right and blue on the left. I haven't changed it and I will never change my markings on my golf ball."
Now she prepares by visualizing the golf course and determining which shots she will use based on the course and the weather.
"I just make sure I'm hitting it correctly on the right parts of the green," she said. "Greens are all tilted and positioned differently. Certain courses require more high-lofted shots or some require lower-lofted shots, so you just have to really figure out the golf course, and then you just have to practice that whole week before nonstop of what you need to do."
In addition to being an impressive athlete in her freshman year, Rubin was also named to the UMAA Honor Roll last year.
"Having tutor access and study rooms on campus is a big plus," she said. "I try to find outside sources to be able to get the grades that I need because I want an education. That's why I'm a student-athlete, not an athlete-student."
Rubin, who lists Anika Sorenson and Tiger Woods as her favorite golfers, said her parents encouraged her to start playing golf because she did not make her seventh grade soccer team.
"My parents decided I needed to dedicate myself to something because they wanted to make sure that I never had that disappointment of not making a team again," she said. "I was into fashion design at the time, and so I decided that I was going to play golf so that when I became really good I could design my own clothes line, and ever since then, I just started playing. I actually hated it at first, but then I fell in love with it. I definitely want to go on tour and see where my life takes me."
Rubin said she chose to attend Ole Miss after visiting the campus for the first time.
"I got an email from the coach, and a friend of my dad's that graduated from Ole Miss told him that he had to come see," she said. "As soon as my dad visited, he said, `You have to come visit.' So I came here, and as soon as I met the coach and saw the facilities and the campus I said, `I have to go to Ole Miss,' and ever since, I've just been so happy to be here. I couldn't have pictured myself at any other school."
The dedication of fans and their school pride have become Rubin's favorite things about Ole Miss.
"Everyone is always wearing something Ole Miss, or something for their sorority or fraternity. I just love how everyone loves Ole Miss so much that no one wants to be anywhere else," she said. "I also love how everyone loves America. You could see the patriotism at the first football game. Everyone was screaming the national anthem. I loved it."
Rubin, who hopes to go to dental school after graduating from Ole Miss, said she hopes she is remembered as a positive and encouraging teammate.
"I want people to think that I'm a fighter, that I never give up, and that I work my butt off," she said. "I want my team to respect me as a teammate and think it was a great experience to know me, and I want to be friends with them for life. We spend four years of our life together, playing golf together every day. You play one round with someone and you're automatically friends because you get to know someone so well. And, hopefully I can say I'm an All-American for three years, because that would be awesome!"
Rubin said she hopes to see more student support at the tournaments this year.
"We want our friends to come out and support us and watch us," she said. "Most people don't understand that we play just as good as the boys. We might not play as long and we don't have as much power as the guys, but it's still pretty interesting. We have a lot of good teams come to our tournaments, and it's just an interesting thing to watch. I mean, girls kicking butt in golf, it's pretty cool."