Why did Rory McIlroy get a free drop from a fan's pocket?

Rory in fan's pocket

Rory McIlroy found his ball in a strange place on the 14th hole at East Lake G.C. in Friday's second round of the Tour Championship: in a fan's pocket.

His wayward tee shot at the par-4 14th hole landed first in a tree before rattling around and falling straight down into a fan's shorts pocket on the fly. McIlroy made his way to the fan, who stood largely still, to assess the situation. The world No. 1 brought in a rules official to tell him what to do next. So what rule did the PGA Tour official apply? It all falls under Rule 24-1b:

If the ball lies in or on the obstruction, the ball may be lifted and the obstruction removed. The ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball lay in or on the obstruction, but not nearer the hole.

McIlroy took his free relief and made par from there.

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