The South African prodigy and Rory McIlroy were two of eight players tied for sixth place on four-under-par, two shots behind leaders Martin Kaymer, Andy Sullivan, Ian Poulter, and Marcus Fraser.
“I’m in a good position and managed to play well,” said Grace. “The putting stroke felt good and it’s comforting to know that heading into the next three days.”
The 27-year-old was pleased to be in the leading bunch after round one, but knew that plenty of golf was still to be played.
“You don’t want to fall too far back and, if you can be thereabouts, then you’re doing something right. It’s a good start for the first day, but there are three more to go and you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Grace had a splendid season in 2015, during which time he was third at the PGA Championship and shared fourth at the US Open. He also won the Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
This week he rose to a career high of 19th in the World Ranking and on Thursday looked impressive during his opening round of 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“I slowed down after that start, but I think it was five-under through the first six holes, which was nice. The wind got up and made it a bit tricky on the back nine, but I managed to hang in there,” he said.