"We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," Turnstile Publishing Co. president William P. Kupper Jr. said. "We were trying to convey the controversial issues with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic.
Turnstile is the parent company of Golfweek.
The company said Dave Seanor, the vice president and editor of Golfweek, has been replaced immediately by Jeff Babineau.
Seanor said Thursday that, "We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn't anticipate the enormity of it."
"There's been a huge, negative reaction," he said. "I've gotten so many e-mails. It's a little overwhelming."
Among the critics was U.S. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who said he found the imagery to be "outrageous and irresponsible."
"It smacks of tabloid journalism," Finchem said in a statement. "It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."
Kelly Tilghman was suspended for two weeks because of comments she made during the second round of this month's Mercedes-Benz Championship, when she and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing young challengers to Woods.
Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up (on him) for a while."
"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman replied.
Tilghman said she apologized directly to the world's No. 1 player, and Woods' agent issued a statement that said it was a non-issue.
Seanor said editors at the magazine debated several choices for a cover, and he took responsibility for the noose. The title of the cover is "Caught in a Noose," with a sub-title, "Tilghman slips up, and Golf Channel can't wriggle free."
Golf Channel didn't deal with Tilghman's comments until Newsday in New York first wrote about the "lynch" reference three days after the broadcast. The suspension was announced shortly after the Reverend Al Sharpton demanded on CNN that Tilghman be fired.
"We're a weekly news magazine. The big story of the previous week was Kelly Tilghman, and that's what we chose," Seanor said. "How to illustrate that? It was tough. Do you put Kelly Tilghman out there? But was it so much about her or the uproar?
"This is emblematic of why people were so offended."
He said dozens of customers at the merchandise show stopped by the Golfweek stand and put an issue in their bag, with some stopping to discuss and complain.
"Most people who are objecting to it - within the golf industry - are saying this episode was just above over," Seanor said. "I think it's indicative of how, when you bring race and golf into the same sentence, everyone recoils."
Asked if he regretted the cover, Seanor paused before answering.
"I wish we could have come up with something that made the same statement but didn't create as much negative reaction," he said. "But as this has unfolded, I'm glad there's dialogue. Let's talk about this, and the lack of diversity in golf."
He denied the cover was an attempt to sell more magazines, noting that Golfweek is 99 percent subscriptions.
Golfweek is one of two American weekly magazines devoted entirely to golf.
Golf World, coincidentally put on its cover this week a photo of Bill Spiller, one of the black pioneers in the sport, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his push to integrate the U.S. PGA Tour.