Jacquelin had a bogey-free 5-under-par 67, a score that withstood a late charge by defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, who ended up at 4-under after the first round.
With gusty winds making low scores difficult, Jacquelin opened the day with five pars. He posted birdies at Nos. 6 and 8 and made the turn at 2-under. After another run of pars, Jacquelin had a birdie at 14 and pulled away with birdies at 17 and 18, both par 4s.
Oosthuizen began his round with a bogey at the 387-yard par 4 first but had birdies at the two front-side par 5s. He crept close to Jacquelin with birdies at 11, 14 and 17.
Oosthuizen missed a chance to tie for the lead when his tee shot at the 273-yard 18th ended up just short of the green.
The select 36-player Volvo Golf Champions field is made up of players who won a European Tour event in the previous year, past winners of the Volvo Golf Champions younger than 50 and players younger than 50 with at least 10 European Tour wins.