The six-time European Tour winner shared fourth at the US Open in June and then tied for 20th at The Open Championship, proving on both occasions that he can compete in the majors.
He got this week off to a solid start, entering a 15-way tie for 24th place that included his compatriots Rory Sabbatini and Ernie Els. World number one and two Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were also tied for 24th place at the end of day one.
Big-hitting Dustin Johnson led the first round after carding a six-under-par 66 at Whistling Straits, where his length off the tee allowed him to overcome the abundant bunkers. Afternoon winds made scoring tough on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Johnson was safely in the clubhouse having signed for a card that included five birdies and an eagle.
“Today I thought I did a great job of just staying patient, hitting the shots that the course allowed me to hit. And I struck the ball well today. So I was very pleased,” the American said.
On the South African front Louis Oosthuizen was the next-best on level-par after the 2010 Open Champ went round in 72. He was followed into the clubhouse by his long-time friend Charl Schwartzel, who shot one-over-par 73.
The remaining South Africans had a tough time, with George Coetzee shooting 74, Tim Clark 75 and Johan Kok 77.
Grace will be disappointed to have given two shots back on the 18th, but he has begun with week on a solid note. There are 54 holes yet to be played at Whistling Straits and the 27-year-old will be hankering for more major glory.