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When is a card is officially played by declarer?

In a game at a local club, declarer was playing winners from dummy when he went into deep thought. He then pulled a card out of his hand intending to play it when dummy corrected him. He then placed the card back into his hand and called a card from the dummy. Declarer's card was not placed on or near the table but one of the opponents did see it and accepted the lead. The newbie director consulted several experienced players and ruled the declarer must play from his hand. Is this ruling correct?  So is the act of pulling a card from his hand considered officially played when one of the opponents sees it?

Rule 45.C.2

Declarer must play a card from his hand if it is (a) held face up, touching or nearly touching the table; or (b) maintained in such a position as to indicate that it has been played.

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